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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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CPCS in Print: Read our book Parenting Culture Studies: If you are based in North America you can order the book here Order from Palgrave in the UK here

1. Neuroparenting and the Expert Invasion of Family Life

Authored by Jan Macvarish, and published by Palgrave in 2016, this book builds on and further explores findings from the study ‘Biologising Parenting: Neuroscience Discourse and English Social and Public Health Policy’ funded by the Faraday Institute. Here’s a round-up of some press coverage and discussion based on the book so far.

‘The Expert Invasion of Family Life’, book review.

‘The Peculiar Joylessness of Neuroparenting’

‘How Neuroparenting is Sapping the Joy out of Family Life’

‘Viewing Children as Future Criminals’

Details of the book are on the Palgrave site and you can read about the background to the book here as well as on Jan’s website about her work.

2. Dates for your 2017 diary

CPCS is co-organising two events in 2017, both taking place at Kent Universities


Policing Pregnancy: Who should be a mother?

This one-day event, to be held at Canterbury Christ Church University on Thursday 18 May 2017, is a collaboration by British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS), Birthrights, and Engaging Sociology at CCCU.

The programme will include speakers from a range of academic disciplines – Sociology, Anthropology, History, Law, Philosophy, and Social Work – and from Third Sector organisations working with pregnant women. Sessions will explore changing ideas about pregnancy, motherhood, responsibility and risk, and the impact of these ideas on women’s experience and professional services.


This event builds on a previous, successful collaboration between BPAS, CPCS and Birthrights in April 2016. The 2016 ‘Policing Pregnancy’ conference, held at the Royal College of Physicians in London, attracted a diverse audience of over 100 healthcare practitioners and academics, and national media coverage (see here for more information).


Doctors, Conscience and Abortion Provision 

Date: Thursday 29 June 2017

Venue: Ground Floor, Cornwallis East Building, University of Kent, Canterbury

Organisers: Dr Ellie Lee (SSPSSR) and Professor Sally Sheldon (Kent Law School), University of Kent

This is a one-day workshop hosted by the University of Kent, as a collaboration between the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Reproduction (CISoR), the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS) and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.


The event is one of a number taking place during 2017, the year of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. In common with other events, its aim is to promote critical reflection about this legislation. In the academic literature, one widely commented on feature of British abortion law is its ‘medicalisation’; that is, the centrality given by law to medical opinion in deciding on access to abortion procedures. While this feature of the abortion legislation has generated a great deal of academic analysis and discussion in the disciplines of law, ethics and sociology, research and discussion about the opinions and experiences of doctors themselves is notably, and curiously, absent from research. The main purpose of this event is to place ‘medical opinion’, as it operates in practice at the centre of a discussion about abortion provision.


The programme overall will take ‘conscience’ as its core theme. Part of the day will consider conscientious objection; its place in abortion legislation (in the 1967 Abortion Act, and in legislation in other jurisdictions) and the issues raised by its invocation by doctors as they ‘opt out’ of abortion provision. In addition to this consideration of ‘doctors who don’t’, however, we will also focus on ‘doctors who do’ through discussion about research that considers the experience of doctors who work to provide abortions.

3. CPCS@Kent

Our two Forums for Spring Term 2017 are:

Wednesday 1 February, 2017

‘War – a family affair. Anthropological perspectives on family life, parenting and gender in the light of military deployment’, introduced by Maj Hedegaard Heiselberg

15.00, Cornwallis North West, Seminar Room 4 


My presentation will be an introduction to my PhD project which focuses on Danish soldiers and their families before, during and after military deployment. I will present some of my initial findings, including the article “Fighting for the family: overcoming distances in time and space”, which will be one out of three analytical articles in my PhD thesis. Secondly, I wish to discuss the arguments of my second article, which I am currently working on. The main aim of the article is to understand the struggles faced by women married to soldiers as they try to balance professional careers and family life during deployment. Based on ethnographic examples, I argue that the frustrations experienced by these women are something else and more than a sacrifice of time. The tasks of everyday family life are interwoven with notions of parenthood, gender and identity, and thus these women’s situation becomes an issue not only of gender equality and family life in the Danish military but also a reminder to empirically and analytically acknowledge the everyday.

About the speaker

I am a PhD Student at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen and the Danish Veteran Centre. My PhD Project focuses on Danish families going through military deployment. Based on ethnographic fieldwork before, during and after military deployment, I examine how soldiers’ spouses and younger children experience everyday family life when separated from their husband and father. From an analytical perspective, my project seeks to understand how expectations of intimacy and presence within family relations are challenged and negotiated by families’ attempts of staying in touch during deployment. By shedding light on the struggles faced by women married to soldiers, as they try to balance professional careers and family life, the study furthermore discusses norms and ideals about parenthood and gender in a Danish context. Finally, my project is a critical study of the Danish military and an attempt to understand processes of militarization by investigating the relationship between the two institutions – family and military. Prior to this PhD project I studied parenting and fatherhood among Danish fathers on paternity leave in Copenhagen as part of my MA Anthropology.

Wednesday 15 March, 2017 

‘The Generation Wars’, introduced by Jennie Bristow.

15.00, Cornwallis North West, Seminar Room 4

Details of Jennie’s book The Sociology of Generations here and in Jennie’s blog. See also by Jennie Bristow:

What is a Citizen?

The Generation Wars

4. Read and listen on

Published work by CPCS  associates:

‘Getting the Green Light: Experiences of Icelandic Mothers Struggling with Breastfeeding’, by Sunna Símonardóttir

‘School demands for parents to do more hits low-income and minority students hardest’, by Max Antony-Newman

See here for details of CPCS PG Associates and email if you would like to know more about being an Associate.

Other items:

‘Parenting is a source of joy, not angst’. Jan Macvarish reviews Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Well, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Parents Should Just Relax by Robert and Sarah LeVine; and The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Alison Gopnik.

‘Worst Public Service Announcement Ever?’, with comment by Ellie Lee

‘Proportion of teenage mothers at ‘lowest in decades”, with comment by Ellie Lee

Sound files from Keynotes given at the ‘Parenting and Personhood’ Conference:

‘Family-life, expertise, and risk management’, Frank Furedi

‘Parenting and Difference in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Parental determinism and risk-consciousness in Scandinavia and (South) East Asia’, Dil Bach

‘Parenting and Difference:  Motherhood and everyday geopolitics’, Ann Phoenix

‘Other people’s children: Parenting in plural Norway’, Hilde Danielsen and Synnøve Bendixsen