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Aktenführung und Stigmatisierung. Institutionelle Ausschlussprozesse am Beispiel der Aktion "Kinder der Landstrasse" 1926-1973

English title File Management and Stigmatization. Processes of Social Exclusion: The "Children of the Road" Campaign 1926-1973
Applicant Sablonier Roger
Number 69083
Funding scheme NRP 51 Social Integration and Social Exclusion
Research institution Historisches Seminar Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.07.2003 - 31.08.2008
Approved amount 473'535.00
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All Disciplines (2)

General history (without pre-and early history)
Swiss history

Keywords (4)

Geschichte der Jenischen; Minderheiten; Schriftlichkeit; Bürokratie

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Children of the Open Road: File management and stigmatization

From 1926 to 1973 the „Relief Organization for Children of the Open Road“ of the Swiss Pro Juventute foundation systematically took Yenish children from their parents and put them in foster families and homes. This project is examining the role that file management played in this matchless case of discrimination and social exclusion.

Although files are considered to be the general form of documentation, memory aid, and justification used by institutions and bureaucracies, the phenomenon of stigmatization by the making, keeping and using of files on individuals has received little research attention. This connection is being investigated taking as an example the „Children of the Open Road“ campaign, through the course of which children were taken from their families and placed in foster families, homes and institutions.

Aim and method
For one, we aim to reveal the role of personal records in the process of stigmatization and the extent to which records function as generators of life stories and biographies. For another, by focusing on the „Children of the Open Road“, we expect to increase our knowledge of this unparalleled case of discrimination in recent Swiss history.
We are constructing what we call file biographies in order to analyse what records were made and kept by whom, when, for what purpose, and how. The aim is to trace how the records were utilized within and outside of the „Relief Organization“ and what specific consequences for the persons affected resulted from this kind of file management. For this reason, the records analysis is being complemented by analysis of biographical information on and the life stories recounted by affected persons.

If a relationship can be demonstrated between file management and processes of stigmatization, leading to social exclusion in the sense of sequentially connected, cumulative exclusion from a number of societal areas (family, education, work world, and more), then file management must be governed by better and clearer standards and regulations (for example, granting full right to the person affected to inspect records and to add written amendments to the records). Moreover, a thorough understanding of the processes and functioning of the „Relief Organization for Children of the Open Road“ will heighten the awareness of institutions in the social and welfare system of their accountability towards minorities.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


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