The construction of gender in professional discourses in child protection services in Chile
: An intersectional critical discourse analysis

  • Cristhie Mella

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study explored constructions of mothers and fathers in a sample of three child protection organisations in a Southern region in Chile. By applying a combination of qualitative methods based on thematic analysis, critical discourse analysis and an intersectional lens, the research focussed on the impact of gendered constructions in their interactions with class and ethnicity on professional discourses. The data was a sample of 18 case files and interviews with 13 practitioners, plus team's organisational guidelines.
Overall, findings revealed the endorsement of a gender division of parenting and a monolithic social construction of motherhood as a discourse embedded in professional approaches to families. This appeared rooted in cultural constructions of gender relations and parenting, with Westernised assimilationist practices applied to the indigenous families involved.
Consistent was a women-blaming process and the construction of fathers as satellites in parenting.
Date of Award19 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsCONICYT, Becas Chile Programme
SupervisorDendy Platt (Supervisor) & Emma Williamson (Supervisor)


  • gender, child protection, critical discourse analysis.

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