The seminar series Changing Parenting Culture was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC grant reference RES-451-26-0538).

The series comprised five events that took place over 2009 and 2010. The subject areas covered were: ‘From child-rearing to ‘parenting’: what’s new about contemporary parenting culture?’; ‘Gender and parenting culture: Intensive fatherhood?’; ‘Child-rearing in a risk society’; ‘Changing Parenting Culture: the problems of parenting policy’; and ‘Pregnancy and pregnancy planning in the new parenting culture.

The overall aim of the series was to explore the way that the cultural meaning of ‘parenting’ has expanded and how it has become an object of expertise and policy making. Through a series of conversations we hoped to discuss the history and sociology of this development, and its effects for parents’ experience and for the workings of specific child-rearing related activities.

The series was a great success. The events brought together in a very powerful way detailed study of particular aspects of the contemporary experience of parenting including TV parenting programmes, feeding babies, family planning, and outdoor play, with a wider socio-cultural analysis of the history and contemporary features of parenting culture. Overall the series attracted a diverse group of people, stretching beyond academic colleagues, as research users of a variety of kinds participated as panellists and attended events.

Some comments made to us about the events include:

For me, attending the first Changing Parenting Culture series was like being hit by a thunderbolt. Suddenly so many of the issues that I’d been considering as a journalist suddenly came in to focus. The research and discussions that occur at the series cut through the buzz of popular notions about parenting and unearth deeper and more philosophical issues related to children and parents. The series helps quantify and examine issues that otherwise remain on the periphery. I’ve found it an essential critical tool in my coverage and comment about parenting for the Times. Long may it continue.’ Jennifer Howze, The Times

‘As Information Officer at One Plus One the seminar series was a very useful opportunity to consider current academic thought on the changing parenting culture. I was able to cement some really fruitful links with other attendees as well as disseminate information about One Plus One and the services we provide, particularly in terms of our research and information resources available. I also got lots of details of new references, resources, articles and books to add to our library collection, keeping it fully up to date. The series was timely, relevant, interesting and a very useful information gathering opportunity. Thank you!’ Laura Dimmock, One Plus One

[With reference to Seminar 5] ‘The conference was of particular benefit to service providers in that it provided a more ‘nuanced’ and sophisticated analysis of how women think about pregnancy planning, and decision-makings than is usual. Speakers highlighted the way in which women and their partners might accrue benefit as well as risk to non-use of contraception. This has potential impact on the way that strategies to reduce the number of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies are framed. The discussion on methodology regarding qualitative research – specifically regarding the way women reporting unplanned planned pregnancies ‘tell their stories’ will be valuable to those looking to analyse feedback from service users, which is increasingly required as a part of Quality Audit. The discussion on the nature of ‘stigma’ was also valuable to those needing to understand the self-image and self-concerns of service users.’ Ann Furedi, bpas

Media coverage can be found here:

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