Social work understanding of children’s citizenship has received little analysis and traditional models tend to view children as passive recipients of care or welfare, rather than as active meaning makers. This is particularly so for looked after children. In contrast we draw upon the work of Pierre Bourdieu to develop a model of understanding children’s citizenship that on the one hand accounts for the structural flow of governance from modern welfare states that shape children’s lives, while recognising the agency and capacity for action among children. The article applies the model to those in the care system. To capture the everyday agency of children we build upon Bourdieu’s notion of habitus with ideas of lived citizenship, as defined by Delanty (2003) and Lister (2007), and recognition theory classically outlined by Honneth (1995). Furthermore, we contribute to the existing work on habitus to develop a model adapted from the pragmatism associated with the work of Boltanski. In so doing, analysing the critical and justificatory account making of children themselves, social workers are able to engage positively with all children by drawing on a variety of their social worlds.
- care system