Parenting culture and feeding babies: a one-day symposium

Organised by the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (CPCS)

Thursday 25 May 2023
Moot Chamber, Wigoder Building, University of Kent, Canterbury

20 years on from the research that initially gave rise to the idea of a Centre dedicated to studying ‘Parenting Culture’, this event provided an opportunity to discuss what has (and has not) changed in research around feeding babies, the associated public conversation, and the future of research.

It was an opportunity for academics, campaigners and other interested people to come together and share their insights. We were especially pleased to welcome academic colleagues from Sweden, Iceland and Germany to share their ideas from political science, natural science and sociology.

The discussion engaged in three broad themes:

  • Intensive motherhood and infant feeding
  • Ethics and the problems of breastfeeding promotion in public health policy
  • Science, ‘scientisation’ and evidence in research

Recordings of the sessions available below

Welcome to the Event 

Parenting culture and feeding babies – Insights from qualitative research 

Parenting culture and feeding babies – Problems of Infant Feeding Policy 

Background to the event

Published initially as the report ‘Mothers’ experience of, and attitudes to, the use of infant formula for feeding babies’, research conducted two decades ago by Ellie Lee and Frank Furedi became the basis for publications, events and international collaborations.

At its heart, the research brought to light the gap between the experience of the everyday, personal practical realities of feeding babies (the ‘is’ of feeding babies), and the public accounts and policies around it (the ‘ought’). This tension is discussed here and the key themes in the work are set out here.

This initial research took many of us into a project that that spread across many dimensions of parenting culture, beyond simply feeding babies. Read about our story. Twenty years ago, however, there were far fewer voices, for example, from campaign groups and in the media, drawing attention to pertinent questions around infant feeding. Through this day of discussion, we will revisit arguments and join with others to evaluate the issues two decades on.

Find out more:

You can watch presentations from the event via our Youtube Page