In this paper we present an analysis of WhatsApp interactions in youth care. In family-style group care young people temporarily live in the family of professional foster parents (PFP), while they regularly visit their birth parents (BPs). Our data consist of instant messaging conversations between 11 pairs of PFPs and BPs during two months. Using Conversation Analysis (CA), we focused on the social interaction between BPs and PFPs, achieved in and through multi-modally constructed sequences of updates - responses. Updates are used by BPs in the context of the transfer from the child from/to the PFP to display responsibility towards the PFP and for the child. Also, PFPs use updates to provide BPs quasi primary access to the experiences of the child, centrally by sending images. Across these functions, we observe specific social actions of BPs and PFPs; while BPs work to display responsibility, PFPs subtly empower BPs as parents.
Qualitative Social Work