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Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS)

Welcome to the 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.

If for any reason you do not want to receive future mailings, let me know.

Ellie Lee, Director CPCS

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CPCS in Print: Read our book Parenting Culture Studies

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Upcoming Events


Parenting culture and feeding babies

Thursday 25 May 2023, 12pm, University of Kent, Canterbury 

Twenty years on from the research that initially gave rise to the idea of a Centre dedicated to studying ‘Parenting Culture’, this event will provide an opportunity for discussion about what has (and has not) changed in research around feeding babies, the associated public conversation, and the future of research. It is an opportunity for academics, campaigners and other interested people to come together and share their insights. We are especially pleased to welcome academic colleagues from Sweden, Iceland and Germany to share their ideas from political science, natural science and sociology. It is open to all, and free to attend (although registration is necessary).

The discussion will engage three broad themes:

● Intensive motherhood and infant feeding

● Ethics and the problems of public health policy

● Science, ‘scientisation’ and evidence in research

Programme summary

Charlotte Faircloth: Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood and the ‘equality problem’

Sunna Símonardóttir: Becoming a mother in ‘the world’s most feminist country’

Lina Eriksson and Tiziana Torresi: A view from liberal political theory on taking autonomy seriously

Vera Wilde: Preventing harm to neonates and their mothers

Erin Williams: Infant feeding and food insecurity: securing the right to food for all

Research and the Public Conversation: Discussion led by comments from Ruth Ann Harpur, Sue Haddon, Jessica Murray, Rebecca Steinfeld and Katherine O’Brien

Find out more about the programme and book your place.

PCS Forum: ‘When parenting culture goes global’

Monday 26 June 2023, 11:00am BST (on Zoom)

With colleagues, Dr Gabriel Scheidecker is involved in research documenting the globalisation of parenting interventions, often targeted at the poorest parents. At this event, he will talk about this work, followed by an open discussion.

Find out more and book your free place here.

Abstract: When a parenting culture goes global: How can ethnographic research make a difference? 
In the last decades, sociologists, anthropologists and scholars from related fields have produced an impressive body of critical research about a particular parenting culture, often dubbed “intensive parenting.” They have criticized proponents of this parenting culture for placing a heavy burden on parents (especially mothers); for their use of dubious scientific evidence; and for the impact of this culture on parents from lower classes in particular. Despite these critical efforts, we are currently witnessing the global dissemination of intensive parenting – not just through the new middle-classes around the world who may find it appealing, but mainly through parenting interventions targeting specifically poor, rural populations in so-called low- and middle-income countries. In 2018 the World Bank, UNICEF, and WHO have officially launched the Nurturing Care Framework (NCF) for the worldwide implementation of such behavioural oral-change programs for parents. If poor parents convert to the principles of Nurturing Care – constant sensitive responsiveness, abundant parent-child play and conversation – it is promised that this will optimize the socio-emotional and cognitive development of their young children, which in turn will translate into higher productivity as adults and nationwide economic and societal development. The underlying scientific claims, largely derived from paediatric, psychological, and economic research in the US, are at odds with ethnographic findings about childrearing, socialization and developmental pathways in many communities around the globe. In this talk, I introduce the rationale and science of the Nurturing Care Framework and ask how ethnographic research can make a difference. In other words, I discuss why our critique was mostly inefficient in reaching those we criticize and present some suggestions how we could ensure that our points have an impact on the applied field we scrutinize.

Speaker Biography
Gabriel Scheidecker is an anthropologist at the Free University of Berlin. He has conducted long-term ethnographic research about childrearing, and emotion socialization in Madagascar and about immigrant parenting and parenting support within Vietnamese migrant settings in Berlin. In July 2023 he will take up a post as Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich and launch the SNSF Starting Grant project: ‘Saving Brains? Applying Ethnography to Early Childhood Interventions in the Global South.’ His most recent publication is: Scheidecker, G., Chaudhary, N., Keller, H., Mezzenzana, F., & Lancy, D. F. (2023). “Poor brain development” in the global South? Challenging the science of early childhood interventions. Ethos 51(1), 3-26, along with a call for papers (see below)

Research news

laptop & bulb

After Choice: FASD and the ‘managed woman’

This project takes policies, guidance and healthcare practices about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as its focus. It builds on previous research considering the ascendence of claims about the salience of the ‘precautionary principle’ for providing advice to women about alcohol and pregnancy.

Read more about the project here.

Update on FACT-Covid: Families and Community in a time of COVID-19

Read the final report from the project here.

New publications

The book, featuring chapters from the international collaborators in the ICo-FACT project will be out later this year: Twamley, K., Iqbal, H., & Faircloth, C. (Eds.). (2023). Family Life in the Time of COVID: International Perspectives. London: UCL Press.

Further details about launch events and accompanying photo exhibition to follow.

Stay up to date with outputs here.

Generations and Society

New book series: Generations, Transitions and Social Change

This new series will provide a home for new work in generational studies. The series will be distinctive for its primary focus on ‘generations’; inter-, multi- and cross-disciplinary scope; international dimension and appeal; and relevance for those engaged in debates and policy-making outside the academy.

We welcome proposals on relevant topics, including (but not limited to):

·       education, intergenerational dialogue and the construction of knowledge;

·       the implication of demographic trends in global fertility rates, ageing and migration;

·       family change and intergenerational solidarity;

·       gender relations and gender roles across generations;

·       generational differences in the experience of work and relations between younger and older workers;

·       inequalities across generations;

·       generational differences and convergences in moral, political and religious attitudes and values;

·       the intersection of generation, gender, migration and culture in narratives of identity and belonging;

·       the differential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic within and between generations in the Global North and Global South;

·       generations and the future.

Visit the Generations, Transitions and Social Change website for more information and proposal guidelines.

Find out the latest from the interdisciplinary Generations Network here.

Call for Papers

Keyboard with label written on folder

Early childhood interventions in the Global South–Where is the ethnographic evidence?

Virtual Special Section in Ethos. Organizers: Gabriel Scheidecker, Nandita Chaudhary, Heidi Keller, Francesca Mezzenzana, David Lancy

Interventions to improve early childhood development (ECD) have moved to the centre of the international development agenda. Organizations like UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank are beginning to implement ECD interventions throughout the global South. This global ECD movement is driven by the conviction that early childhood development is causally linked to the socioeconomic status of individuals and of whole populations. Accordingly, proponents of global ECD attribute “poverty” in the global South to “poor” early brain development, which is believed to translate into low school achievement and low adult productivity. As expressed in UNICEF’s slogan “Building Brains, Building Futures”, ECD interventions aim to bring about economic and societal development through optimizing early childhood development. Most ECD interventions try to achieve this goal by changing childrearing practices according to a number of parenting standards. The global ECD movement claims to be based on the best available scientific evidence, which is presented in The Lancet and many other influential medical journals. While including findings from paediatrics, neurosciences, developmental psychology, and behavioural economics, ethnographic research from anthropology, cultural psychology and other context-sensitive disciplines is largely excluded from the evidence base of global ECD.

We think that ethnographic expertise should matter for global ECD. It provides abundant insights on parenting, early childhood, and socio-economic conditions around the globe, whereas the ECD knowledge base in its current form relies overwhelmingly on research from the global North. Most importantly, the ethnographic record is often at odds with the rationale of global ECD.

With this Virtual Special Section we aim to create an exchange about the challenges and opportunities of using ethnographic expertise to scrutinize, and improve the evidence base of global ECD and other child-focused applied fields. Our article “’Poor Brain Development’ in the Global South? Challenging the Science of Early Childhood Interventions” serves as an opening to the special section. We call for commentaries, theoretical reviews, or essays that address these or similar questions:

– Why is ethnographic research missing in the evidence base of global ECD and neighbouring applied fields?

– Which critical or constructive roles could ethnographic evidence play for global ECD and neighbouring applied fields?

– To which extend is it the responsibility of anthropologists and other scholars with ethnographic expertise to communicate their findings to the applied fields that might

affect the studied populations?

– Which strategies could be employed to ensure that ethnographic findings take full effect in neighbouring fields such as global ECD?

– How can anthropology and related disciplines help to decolonize ECD frameworks?

Contributions can be submitted at any time and will go through the normal review process of Ethos. Commentaries will be reviewed just by the editor, all other article types will go into peer review. Once accepted, the contributions will be published in the upcoming issue and virtually linked with the previous contributions of this special section. Since the virtual special section will grow gradually, contributors have the chance to respond to each other.

For further information please contact Gabriel Scheidecker (


Read and listen on

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Jennie BristowThe Rise of the Baby Doomer, Unherd

A reminder of our YouTube channel, with recordings of events and other resources from the past decade.

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