Child welfare in Halifax, 1900--1960: Institutional transformation, denominationalism, and the creation of a 'public' welfare system.
Author(s)Lafferty, Renee Nicole.
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AbstractChild welfare programmes in the city of Halifax underwent significant transformation between 1900 and 1960, particularly in relation to the place of denominational institutions. Over the course of this sixty year period, material and ideological changes combined to render the types of services once offered by these institutions, redundant. The city's congregate care Homes and asylums were, by the late 1950s, smaller in both size and jurisdiction. While such changes most often are viewed as symptomatic of secularization, the current dissertation disengages from this problematic historical narrative, and sets causality not within an abstract process, but within the peculiar, complex, and often conflictual local context of the city.
As an explanatory framework, secularization imposes a rigid opposition between sacred and secular interests, associating the secular with the modern and professional, and the sacred with the old-fashioned and amateur. It assumes the triumph of the social worker over the institutional manager and thereby obscures both the significant continuity between institutionalization and foster care as therapies for dependency, and the active participation of institutional managers in the adoption of modern practices. It also attributes a degree of control to professional social workers which was not always apparent in the city of Halifax, and it assumes that religious belief had little or no influence within a modern system. Based upon an examination of denominational records, as well as the records of welfare agencies and institutions, this study questions these assumptions about the causes and consequences of change in child welfare practice. It further argues that the institutional managers were, themselves, instrumental in the adoption of those modern methods and ideas which ultimately resulted in their restricted jurisdictions within the city's system.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Dalhousie University (Canada), 2003.