Seminar 5

Pregnancy and pregnancy planning in the new parenting culture

Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd June 2010

University of Kent, Canterbury


Abstracts and papers

Seminar summary

Seminar theme: The University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and the Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality have organised an international conference, bringing together academics from a range disciplines, to discuss the way in which pregnancy is being re-conceptualised at a time when parenthood has become the object of increasing attention and concern. The event is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas).

Speakers will address how anxieties about parenting are ‘extending backwards’ into pregnancy and even pre-conception, with potential parents increasingly being regarded as in need of ‘parent training’. Papers will consider the validity and impact of claims that a healthy baby requires a stress-free pregnancy; the impact of contemporary parenting culture on reproductive decision-making, in particular, abortion; the increasing pressure for men to become actively involved not just in baby-care but in guiding and supporting their partner’s antenatal choices; and the way in which the new norm of ‘intensive parenthood’ is shaping the regulation of reproductive technology. The conference will also include a comparative discussion of US and UK controversies surrounding the consumption of drugs and alcohol by pregnant women.

The two-day conference will continue the success of the ESRC-funded ‘Changing Parenting Culture’ seminar series and develop the work of Parenting Culture Studies, a network of academics co-ordinated by Dr Ellie Lee, senior lecturer in social policy at Kent university. ‘Pregnancy and Pregnancy Planning in Contemporary Parenting Culture’ will take forward this work by focusing on contemporary thinking about mothers, fathers, conception and pregnancy. The event is being organised by Kent University colleagues Dr Jan Macvarish (Centre for Health Services Studies), Professor Sally Sheldon (Kent Law School) and Dr Ellie Lee (School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Research).