Studying Parenting Culture
CPCS associates work in different disciplines and have diverse foci for their research. But our common view is that child-rearing as a social activity needs to be distinguished from ‘parenting’ and the culture that surrounds it. One of the achievements of our network has been to establish the study of ‘parenting culture’ as an important enterprise in its own right and we seek to explore and illuminate the dimensions and problems of this culture.
Through our work we have sought to show how the role and meaning of parenthood has changed in recent years. Child-rearing has expanded to encompass a growing range of activities that were not previously seen as an obligatory dimension of this task. CPCS associates have identified this emerging trend as exercising a decisive impact on the mothering role and more broadly on child-rearing; parenting culture in this form has a profound impact on the constitution of mothering and fathering identity as well on the relationship amongst parents. How mothers and fathers manage and perform these identities is one of the themes running through the explorations of colleagues involved with this network. The expansion of the child-rearing role has also encouraged the belief that ‘parenting’ is a problematic sphere of social life. Indeed, ‘parenting’ is almost always discussed as a social problem. Many social actors have sought in this context to turn child-rearing into an object of policy making, encouraging the emergence of the activity ‘parenting’. The causes and effects of this policy turn is another central area of our research.
Some key themes and areas for our research and discussions are:
- The medicalisation of parenthood and the professionalisation of everyday life
- Risk consciousness and parenting culture
- Gender and parenting: the ‘intensification’ of fatherhood
- The management of emotion and the sacralisation of ‘bonding’
- The politics of parenting culture
- The policing of pregnancy (including diet, alcohol consumption, smoking)
- Reproductive choices (including contraceptive use, family size)
- The moralisation of infant feeding (including breast and formula feeding, weaning)
- The experience of the culture of advice / ‘parenting support’
You can read more about some current research by CPCS Associates here
You can read about books and articles we have published (and academic work we like) here
If you are interested in studying with CPCS, find out more here