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Daniela Reimer, University of Siegen

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Constructions and balances of normality of young people from foster cares

 In societies which are characterized by masses of statistical data about their members, people are constantly confronted with ideas of what is „normal“ and „not normal“.
Foster children and foster carers in such societies need to deal with the normality ideas and expectations of their respective society. Of particular relevance are questions concerning the idea of a normal family, normal way of growing up, normal development and to what extend the foster child and the foster family fit into these ideas. But as well: how do they eventually deal with discrepancies and deviance and do they face stigmatization from their environment because of a lack of normality?
Many young people from foster care have experienced in their biografies and in their everyday lives being at the limits (or beyond) the normalities accepted by their society in different areas of their lives.

Using biografical narratives of young people from foster care, I would like to present how they construct their normality, how the balance it, and which kind of risks and chances can be discovered in the resp. constructions and balances.
How young people from foster care deal with their experiences at the limits of normality, which tactics they use for normalization and de-normalization, and how they succeed to find their place in their society is a relevant question for their identity. But it is also a relevant question for professional services: for only if services are concious about the efforts young people have to make in order to accomplish a kind of normality, services can support young people to develop low risk patterns which are particular helpful.


Keywords: biografies, foster children, narratives, normality