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Citizen Science Zurich

What was known?

Out-of-home placement in Swiss media in the 20th century


Until well into the 20th century, tens of thousands of children and adolescents were placed in foster families or homes as free labor by the Swiss state. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that a broad public began to take an interest in this "dark chapter" of Swiss welfare history, resulting not only in a social, but also a scientific reappraisal of the issue. To date, however, one of the key questions of out-of-home placement – what was made public about the actions of the authorities and the living conditions of the children in foster care – has been left out of scholarly debates.

About the project

This is where the project What was known? sets in. The aim of the project is to reconstruct media debates on the issue of out-of-home placement in 20th-century Switzerland. The focus is on a qualitative and quantitative content analysis of supraregional German-language daily newspapers. The Citizen Science project aims not only to contribute to strengthening participatory research on the issue of out-of-home placement in 20th-century Switzerland, but also to work on source material that has hardly been considered so far.

Invovlement of citizen scientists

The conception as a Citizen Science project is meant to make it possible, on the one hand, to arrive at representative findings by analyzing large amounts of data and, on the other hand, to test a new participatory form of cultural reappraisal of the controversial issue at hand. The project offers various interest groups the opportunity to participate and is intended to make an innovative contribution to political education through its collaborative approach.

Weiterführende Informationen


Michèle Hofmann, Dr.
Institute of Education
University of Zurich

Project website and participation

More about Project website and participation

Institute of Education, University of Zurich