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Welcome to the latest Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS) newsletter. This goes to those who have attended events organised by CPCS, and others who have expressed an interest in the work of the Centre.

Ellie Lee, Director CPCS 

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Welcome to our first newsletter for 2018!

1. Early Intervention: Adverse Childhood Experiences

In December 2017, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee launched an Inquiry into the evidence-base for early years intervention, with a particular focus on programmes influenced by the concept of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ (ACEs).

CPCS associates and social policy specialists from a number of universities were concerned that the inquiry’s remit was open to considering contributions that were more circumspect about the ACEs approach and collaborated to produce a submission which sets out some grounds on which the claims made about ACEs might be questioned. After the submission was published by the Committee, it was circulated to fellow academics similarly concerned about the limitations of the ACEs approach who also provided comment.


Find out more, including links to the submission, here. 


2. CPCS@kent

Intensive parenting: an Anglo-American problem?

Wednesday 28 February, 14.00-16.00

Venue: Cornwallis NW, Seminar Room 4 


Introduction: Tina Haux, Lecturer in Quantitative Social Policy, SSPSSR

Chaired by Jennie Bristow, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, CCCU, author, The Sociology of Generations (Palgrave, 2017)


The new book Achtung Baby: the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children has received a lot of recent media coverage. Written by America author Sara Zaske, it positively contrasts German attitudes to childhood, and parenting, to those said to dominate US culture. Coverage in the UK press suggests some think the British could similarly learn a great deal from Germany. All welcome for this discussion about ‘intensive parenting’ in comparative perspective.


Suggested reading:

Achtung Baby: the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children (via this link you can listen to the author talking about the book). 


USA Today article. 


The Times article.

Jennie Bristow, ‘Helicopter or hands-off: today’s parents can’t seem to win’, The Conversation

Jennie Bristow, The Double Bind of Parenting Culture: Helicopter Parents and Cotton Wool Kids’ (book chapter)

Abortion in Britain: past, present and future

Wednesday 21 March, from 13.30

Venue: Wigoder Building, University of Kent, Canterbury


Marking the 50th Anniversary of the passage and implementation of the Abortion Act 1967, CPCS has organised an afternoon of discussion, together with Kent’s Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Reproduction (CISoR). All Welcome.


13.30-14.00  Tea and Coffee

14.00-15.15  ‘Kind to Women: how the 1967 Abortion Act changed our lives’

Film showing and Q&A with film director, Jayne Kavanagh (UCL Medical School)

About the film:

The passing of the 1967 Abortion Act was a pivotal moment for women’s health and women’s lives. The culmination of decades of campaigning, it finally ended the horror of deaths from self-induced and backstreet abortions. It precipitated the public funding of contraception for all and meant that, finally, women were able to choose when and whether to have children. In this moving documentary, women who survived illegal abortion and the nurses who picked up the pieces when things went wrong, and campaigning doctors and abortion rights advocates share vivid memories of the time; and bring to life the story of this ground breaking legislation and of a historic turning point for women’s rights.


‘…bringing the real life experience of women to the forefront of the discussion in such a gripping way. Congratulations on an excellent piece of work…’ 

‘Shed some tears. Admire the bravery of the participants’

‘Extremely powerful and empowering.’


15.30-17.00  ‘The future of abortion: the case for decriminalisation’

Discussion with opening comments from Professor Sally Sheldon (Kent Law School) and Ann Furedi, CEO, British Pregnancy Advisory Service and author, The Moral Case for Abortion.

17.00-18.00  Drinks Reception and meet the author, Ann Furedi


The event is free, but you need to book.

3. Other upcoming events


What are the rights and wrongs of school dress codes?

Organised by the IoI Education / Parents Forums

Thursday 25 January, 19.00, London 

The discussion will be kicked off by a short lecture by Professor Daniel Monk of Birkbeck School of Law. Daniel’s research has explored a wide range of issues relating to families, children, education and sexuality, including school exclusions, sex education, homophobic bullying, dress codes, home-education and early-years education. Drawing on a variety of theoretical and socio-legal perspectives his work locates these issues within broader political and cultural contexts, engages critically with discourses of ‘children’s rights’, and attempts to create a dialogue between ‘child law’ and the ‘sociology of childhood’. He advises and works with a number of public agencies into issues relating to home-education, children’s rights and criminal justice and sexuality.


For more details and to book. 


Do we live in a time of narcissistic parenting?

Reading Group / Discussion (venue tbc)

Wednesday 15 March, 19.00-21.00 


In a provocative recent book, the historian of childhood, Harry Hendrick, argues that ‘social changes, including neoliberalism, feminism, the collapse of the social-democratic ideal, and the ‘new behaviourism’, have led to the rise of the anxious and narcissistic parent.’

Whether or not that sounds convincing is up for discussion, but the book offers a detailed history of the shifts in the context within which British children have been raised from the 1940s to the present.


Hendrick’s argument will be discussed at a seminar to be held in central London on Thursday 15 March, 19.00-21.00. All welcome, but please confirm your intention to attend by emailing Jan McVarish.


There will be a small fee to cover the cost of room hire.

Narcissistic parenting in an insecure world: A history of parenting culture 1920s to present by Harry Hendrick


Date for your diary: Parenting culture, childhood, and adult-child relations in the contemporary age 


This one-day event, organised by Charlotte Faircloth and Rachel Rosen in the Department of Social Science at UCL, will be held on 23 May 2018 in the Institute of Advanced Studies in London. It will bring together contributions from scholars working in Parenting Culture Studies and Childhood Studies who are interested in creating connections between these sub-fields. Areas to be discussed include:

·      Ideals of parenting and its intersections with childhood in historical or international perspectives

·      Adult-child relationships in a ‘risk culture’

·      Adult authority and/or children’s rights in intergenerational perspective

·      Non-traditional family forms, including sibling relationships and transnational families

·      Expertise, consumption and the advice culture around parenting/childhood

·      Interventions in and with ‘the child’ e.g. ‘socialisation in reverse’

·      Intersectionality and the division of reproductive labour

·      The political economy of parent-child relations


More info, including booking details, to follow in our next newsletter!

4. Read and listen on

Book reviews

Ellie Lee reviews Blinded by Science: The Social Implications of Epigenetics and Neuroscience

by Dave Wastell and Sue White


Journal articles

Glenda Wall, in Sociology of Health and Illness, ‘ ‘Love builds brains’: Representations of attachment and children’s brain development in parenting education material’.

Sunna Símonardóttir and Ingólfur V. Gíslason in The Sociological Review, ‘When breast is not best: Opposing dominant discourses on breastfeeding’.


Authored comments

Jennie Bristow, ‘Time for a truce in the generation wars‘

Jan Macvarish, ‘Why Mothers Shouldn’t be Bribed to Breastfeed’


Frank Furedi, ‘Turning Childhood into a Mental Illness’


Media mentions

Jan Macvarish, featured on the Let Grow Blog, ‘Dear Experts: Quit Telling us how to ‘Correctly’ Bond with our Kids’