Marit Skivenes





Skivenes is recognised as a leading expert in the field of child protection systems, with numerous publications in well-regarded journals. She is also a popular lecturer and a widely used expert by the media. Skivenes is the Head of the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, and the Principal Investigator of several international research projects. Skivenes headed the commission for the Official Norwegian Report on improved quality and legal protection in child protection (2021-2023).


If you wish to be affiliated with the research centre, please contact prof. Skivenes. Other inquiries should be directed to Barbara Ruiken. Students who would like supervision, discuss the discipline, or be affiliated with one of the research projects, are very welcome to contact prof. Skivenes via email.


Skivenes completed her PhD in Political Science at the University of Bergen in 2002. Post PhD, she worked two years as a researcher at the research institute "Fafo" in Oslo.

Later she spent three years at the Centre for Child Welfare at the Faculty of Psychology (UiB), as associate professor and head of the Centre. She then continued to work three years at the Department of Social Education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), first as associate professor and later as a professor.

Marit Skivenes is a professor at the Department of Government (University of Bergen), appointed in 2012.

Research interests

Theoretical focus:

  • Argumentation Theory - Deliberative Democracy - Discretion and decision-making in Organizations - Freedom of Speech - Paternalism and Welfare - Political Theory - Quality of Public Administration.

Empirical research themes: 

  • Access to public information, Children's Interests, Child Protection Systems, Child Rights, Decision-Making Proceedings,  Migration, Public Debate, Public Policy formation, Transparency, Welfare State Systems, Whistle-Blowing, Wrongdoing in Organizations.

Please examine professor Skivenes projects and publications for elaborations about her research.

Awards and grants 

Marit Skivenes was awarded the prestigous ERC Consolidator Grant in 2016 for her research project DISCRETION. Read more about this here.

Marit Skivenes and Katrin Kriz were awarded the ISW prize for best article published in 2015 with the article "Challenges for marginalized minority parents in different welfare systems: Child welfare workers’ perspectives".



Skivenes and colleagues present research in blogposts and some of Skivenes´s blogposts are also in Norwegian.

Recent Commentaries in Media

Marit Skivenes does also regularly publish blog posts at

Recent media coverage

Keynote speaker (selected)

  • Keynote speaker at the 15th International EUSARF Conference “All Children, All Families. Promoting Excellence in Child Welfare Research, Policy and Practice”. 2018-10-03 – 2018-10-05. Porto, Portugal
  • Keynote speaker at the conference “Decision Making in Child and Adult Protection: Discretion and Dialogue“. 2018-05-31 – 2018-06-02. Basel, Switzerland
  • «Do we still trust barnevernet - and should we?» UiB Innsikt. 12-09-2020.
  • Key note speaker at the 3rd Annual International ERCPAMM Seminar “Research, social policy and action with migrant minors”, Title: «Children across borders: Rights and policies», Melilla, Spain; 2018-04-25 to 2018-04-27.
  • Key note speaker at the conference “Unaccompanied minors across borders: Main social and political issues for their protection”. Title: “Discrimination of unaccompanied asylum seeking minors”, Melilla, Spain; 2017-04-25
  • Keynote speaker at the 8th ESFR Conference “Changing Family Relations – Gender and Generations”; 2016-08-31 – 2016-09-03. Dortmund, Germany.
  • Keynote speaker at the Nordic Congress on Child Welfare; 2015-08-26 - 2015-08-28. Turku, Finland.

Recent videos

For full overview of media contributions, presentations and publications, please visit the Cristin database.


Students who would like supervision, discuss the discipline, or be affiliated with one of the research projects, are very welcome to contact prof. Skivenes via email.

PhD-students under supervision

  • Frøydis Lønborg Haarberg, project (UiB): Addressing the ‘how’ of children’s participation
  • Mathea Loen, project (UiB): Legitimacy Challenges: Participation in Public Debate
  • Barbara Ruiken, project (UiB): Discretionary Decision-Making in Child Protection Care Order Cases: Exploring the Tensions between Rule of Law and Discretion
  • Irene Aase Kvåle, project (HVL): Priorities in Child Protection and Health Services

Master's students under supervision:

  • Marianne Vika Hansen (UiB)
  • Marie Bruåas Hjortdahl (UiB)


  • GOV350 Master's thesis in Politics and Public Administration (supervisor)
  • GOV323 Qualitative Methods (supervisor)
  • GOV216 Constitutions, Courts and Politics
  • Effects of Lawfare – Courts and law as battlegrounds for social change
  • AORG 907 Introduction to Systematic Review and the use of SR in Social Science
  • AORG 350 Master's thesis in Administration and Organization Theory
  • AORG 332 Research design
  • AORG 325 Discretion and paternalism
  • AORG 250 Bachelor’s Thesis (2013 - 2017)
  • AORG 104 Political Theory and Democratic Governance (2013 - 2014)
  • AORG 100 Introductory Course in Administration and Organization Theory (2013 - 2014)
Popular scientific lecture
Academic article
Academic anthology/Conference proceedings
Academic lecture
Short communication
Academic chapter/article/Conference paper
Popular scientific article
Doctoral dissertation
Multimedia product
Feature article
Article in business/trade/industry journal
Encyclopedia article

See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.

Open Access Publications:



Professor Marit Skivenes is awarded an European Research Council (ERC) Frontier Research Grant for the research project DISCRETION to consolidate her research ideas and thinking around core themes in social sciences about the governments use of power towards its citizens, and the justifications of state interventions into peoples lives. The ERC sole evaluation criterion is scientific excellence of researcher and research proposal.

The full title of the project is “Discretion and the child’s best interests in child protection”, and it aims to unlock the black box of discretionary decision-making in child protection cases by a comparative-empirical study of how discretionary decisions are made and justified in the best interests of the child.

There are huge research gaps in this important area of the welfare state, with a great deal of uncertainty concerning how, when and why discretionary decisions about the child’s best interests are different between decision- makers within and between child protection systems.

Current projects:

Previous projects

Verv og Pro bono


Pro bono-gruppen

Skivenes er faglig ansvarlig i en pro bono-gruppe ved Universitetet i Bergen som utfører forskning på barns rettigheter. Pro Bono er et latinsk uttrykk for arbeid og tjenester som gjøres som en tjeneste til det offentlige samfunnet. Les mer om Pro bono-gruppen her.


Ønsker du å være frivillig i Child Rights Unit på Centre on Law and Social Transformation

Kontakt professor Marit Skivenes på

Uteksaminerte PhD-studenter

Uteksaminerte PhD-studenter

  • Hege B. Helland, prosjekt (UiB) : Adoption in child protection. 2021.
  • Audun Løvlie, prosjekt (UiB): Accepting Care Orders: Expertise as premise-provider. 2023.
  • Ida B. Juhasz, prosjekt (UiB): Godt nok foreldreskap. Vurderinger og begrunnelser ved omsorgsovertakelse av nyfødte i Norge og England. 2021.
  • Øyvind S. Tefre, political science, HVL: Public and private responsibility for children. 2020.
  • Astrid Strandbu, pedagogy, UiT. Barns deltakelse og barneperspektivet i familierådsmodellen. 2009. 
  • Liv Walseth, medicine, UiB. Hvordan bedre lege-pasientsamtalen?. 2012. (Co-supervisor).
  • Eirik Gundersern, philosophy, OsloMet. What We Owe to Our Children. Relationships and Obligations in Public Care. 2018.  (Co-supervisor).