Marginal voices: Exploring presence and participation in interaction in child protection conferences

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Downloads (Pure)


    Child protection conferences are key meetings in the social work child protection process in England. They provide the context where decisions are made about how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and constitute an important opportunity for social work services to work in partnership with parents; yet there is little research about what happens interactionally in these meetings and particularly about parents’ participation. Using interactional sociolinguistics, we analyse the data from three audio-recorded child protection conferences, focussing on sequences where concerns are raised and responded to, to illuminate how parent involvement is accomplished interactionally. We look specifically at the linguistic and discursive features of turns and the management of the floor, connecting the sequential nature of the account sequences to presence and participation. The analysis shows a contrast between professionals’ participation versus parents’ presence in this asymmetrical event, suggesting a marginalisation of parents’ contributions and a mismatch between the principle of partnership working with parents and practice in this area of child protection social work.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)324-348
    Number of pages25
    JournalDiscourse & Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2022

    Bibliographical note

    © The Author(s) 2022,

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
    provided the original work is properly cited..


    Funding Information: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Eleanor Lutman-White was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.


    • Account sequences
    • child protection
    • interactional sociolinguistics
    • meetings
    • participation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Linguistics and Language


    Dive into the research topics of 'Marginal voices: Exploring presence and participation in interaction in child protection conferences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this