AbstractThis thesis is a social anthropological study of babies, children, youth and women in three Javanese panti asuhan (orphanages/children’s homes). I want to show the complexity in Javanese panti asuhan, and I hope to challenge the typical notion of children and childhood. In my material I focus on everyday life activities which take place in the panti asuhan. I argue that the inhabitants are socialised according to a court model of selfhood that leads the children and youth away from their less refined background. This has to be seen in light of the marginal situation the children and youth come from. The children are separated from their “village” background when they move into a panti, because the administrators in Javanese pantis want to socialise the inhabitants according to an “urban” setting. This is done as a way to improve the children’s social status. Another central topic of this thesis is that Javanese panti asuhan are, I suggest, “matrifocal” institutions. This happens because mothers and women are connected to the institutions, while fathers and men only have peripheral roles. The matrifocal pattern normally found in Javanese households are transferred and adjusted to a panti setting, and I show that Javanese pantis are homes and institutions at the same time. I also show that women use, and in a sense internalise, the traditional model of womanhood in order to get a high social status within and outside the panti asuhan sphere.Finally I argue that the employees are not the only ones working in the institutions, because children and youth also perform a large variety of work in panti asuhan. Work is an important part of the socialisation in the institutions, because it creates a connection and a sense of community with the rest of society.