The role of anthropology in improving services for children and families: an introduction

Cecilia Vindrola-Padros, Anne E. Pfister, Ginger A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


The fluid and changing nature of family the wide diversity of family arrangements, and families' movement across space (e.g., migration) and time (e.g., life-course) demand constant reconfiguration of services. As the articles presented in this special issue demonstrate, the skills of anthropologists have resulted in reflection upon, and often restructuring of, family services. Anthropology is also involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs within agencies tasked with providing these services. The authors featured in this special issue outline the contributions and limitations of anthropological practice, the ways in which anthropologists grapple with applied work, and future areas the discipline is well suited to address. The authors provide vivid examples of the application of anthropological perspectives and ethnographic methods for a wide range of purposes (from program design to evaluation), in a myriad of contexts (within health clinics, schools, public service agencies, community centers, homes, and nongovernmental organizations), and with a variety of outcomes (by informing policy, facilitating changes in practice, and improving the quality of life of participants). We hope this collection of articles inspires a critical examination of the concepts and discourses guiding the design of policies and the development of strategies for bringing together multiple stakeholders to make policies and services aimed at children and families multidimensional, inclusive, and evidence based.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Anthropological Practice
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes




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