Delete search term


Quick navigation

Main navigation

Childhood vulnerability and children’s understandings of well-being

Swiss childhood study as part of the worldwide research on “Children’s Understandings of Well-Being – Global and Local Contexts” (

At a glance


All people are vulnerable, but vulnerability is unequally distributed - some people are more vulnerable than others. What this means for children and youth and how they understand well-being is the goal of the qualitative SNF research project.


Social work often deals with children and youth who are particularly vulnerable or have already been hurt. Yet few studies ask children themselves about their understanding of well-being and vulnerability. This obscures not only the diversity of childhoods, but also of life chances and opportunities to participate in society. Therefore, it is crucial to examine inequality factors and conditions of vulnerability, which are also reflected in concepts of well-being (see Andresen 2013; Bohne/Hunner-Kreisel 2016; Hunner-Kreisel/Kuhn 2010; Hunner-Kreisel/March 2018).The current state of research on childhood vulnerability points to societal, generational, institutional, and biographical conditions of vulnerability (cf. Pomey 2017, Pomey 2022 in ed.). It is now important to find out how childhood vulnerability is intertwined with the phenomenon of well-being. A sound understanding of vulnerability as well as of well-being - especially from the perspective of children and adolescents - is central to a social work that wants to protect and promote them. Taking children and young people's perspectives seriously means asking them how they understand and experience well-being, what is important for their well-being, and what makes them vulnerable.


The goal of the project, which is scheduled to run for at least four years (2021-2024), is to examine the perspective of children and adolescents in Switzerland who grow up in unequally precarious life situations. In other words, to interview children and adolescents who have had different biographical experiences of vulnerability about their views and experiences of well-being and vulnerability and to find out whether and to what extent their perspectives are the same or different.


The study chooses a socio-pedagogical and childhood-theoretical approach and is particularly interested in the field of child and youth welfare. Therefore, children and adolescents between 8-14 years of age in different service structures (youth clubs, community centers, day care structures, residential care) are recruited and invited to present their point of view using a variety of research methods. In addition to verbal data (interviews and focus groups), visual data (photographs, drawings, maps) will be collected and analyzed.

The Swiss research project is supported by the professional association Integras and is located in three language regions (Romandie, Ticino and German-speaking Switzerland) and is part of the worldwide research network on "Children's Understandings of Well-Being - Global and Local Contexts" (, in which more than 25 countries are involved (see Fattore/Fegter/Hunner-Kreisel 2021). The project is situated within the framework of international comparative qualitative studies that aim to examine how children understand well-being in a locally oriented, culturally contextualized, and multinational comparative manner (

Further information