Somewhere between evil and normal: Traces of morality in a child protection helpline

Morality in Practice - Exploring Childhood, Parenthood and Schooling in Everyday Life - Jakob Cromdal

Jonathan Potter [+-]
Loughborough University
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I work in the broad interdisciplinary field of discourse studies, with a particular focus on the way careful analyses of interaction can provide a way of understanding and reworking basic psychological questions. This way of thinking about interaction research is called discursive psychology.
Alexa Hepburn [+-]
Loughborough University
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Alexa Hepburn has published widely on issues of child protection and bullying in school situations, and on developments in discursive and critical psychology. She has delivered more than 40 invited talks and keynotes, and 23 workshops on interaction analysis in 7 different countries around the world. Her work ranges across family mealtimes, helplines and clinical and counselling encounters; her research into various interactional features of the NSPCC Helpline was awarded a Leverhulme fellowship. Her two books - An Introduction to Critical Social Psychology and Discursive research in Practice: New approaches to psychology and interaction - reflect a dual focus on developing greater methodological innovation in psychology, and on the construction of young people and their rights and competences. Recent work has developed a particular interest in emotion in interaction, in particular crying and its different styles of reception, and also orientations to, and displays of, asymmetries, rights and competences. She is currently co-authoring a book on Transcribing for Social Research, and delivering workshops for helpline practitioners.


Issues of morality and children have traditionally been investigated within the realm of developmental psychology, treating the human ability to adopt certain values as a matter of individual and cognitive growth. As an alternative, this book approaches the morality of young persons from a practice oriented perspective. In essence, such an approach adopts a view of morality as something participants jointly accomplish in going about their everyday social affairs. That is to say, rather than relying on developmental theory or moral philosophy in exploring the moral worlds of young persons, a practice oriented approach adopts a primarily empirical stance, leaning on qualitative analysis of naturally occurring social interaction as found in, for example, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and discursive psychology. This collection brings together scholars from Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. Twelve empirical chapters focus on different aspects of everyday morality as practiced among children and youth as well as a range of participants who act in their role as adults, lay or professional, to foster, educate and in various ways support young people in daily life. The volume opens with an introductory chapter by the editors, who briefly present a practice based perspective on morality, situating at the same time the individual chapters within the fields of discursive research on children and youth in society.

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Potter, Jonathan ; Hepburn, Alexa . Somewhere between evil and normal: Traces of morality in a child protection helpline. Morality in Practice - Exploring Childhood, Parenthood and Schooling in Everyday Life. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Nov 2022. ISBN 9781845539306. Date accessed: 20 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25151. Nov 2022

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