Poor Parenting?

iron curtain in jpegAfter the Iron curtain: Poor parenting and state intervention in cross cultural perspective

A one -day workshop at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

10 June 2015, 10-5pm

Across many contemporary societies, the quality of parenting is increasingly seen as imperative, not only for the well-being of individual children, but for the health of communities as a whole. This kind of parenting – increasingly endorsed by both parents and policy makers – has been termed ‘concerted’, ‘intensive’, or even ‘paranoid’ by researchers, pointing to the ‘more’ than the basic childcare that many mothers feel they should do for their children.

The opposite of this is ‘poor’ parenting or ‘unfit’ parents – defined not so much by an approach, as the absence of it. Poor parenting is most often tied to expectations of poor outcomes, where children are seen as being at risk of neglect or maltreatment. Intervention by the state is aimed at ensuring children be saved from such parents, either through training, or by placing children in settings that provide more appropriate care. Since much of the social science research on the topic has been done in what’s called ‘Euro-America’, however, the explanatory framework usually draws on elements of capitalist market economies and social stratifications, such as class, poverty, gender inequality and race.

This workshop is concerned with this issue of ‘poor’ parenting in cross-cultural perspective, and particularly a UK/US comparison with post-Soviet countries. Taken at face value, the concept of ‘poor’ parenting may look very different in countries with different political, ideological and socio-economic structures such as liberal democracies of the UK and the US, yet one study has revealed some (tentative) similarities in child welfare practices. This workshop problematizes the concept of ‘poor’ parenting by making it an analytical concept and placing it in a comparative context, asking three main questions:

(1) What constitutes ‘poor’ parenting in a particular country?

(2) What are the underlying concepts of childhood and parenthood this relies on?

(3) What are the similarities in child welfare practices, and how do we account for these?

Participants include: Professor Hugh Cunningham (Kent), Professor Val Gillies (Goldsmiths), Professor Frank Furedi (Kent), Professor Molly Ladd-Taylor (York, Canada) Dr Charlotte Faircloth (Roehampton), Dr Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill (Cambridge), Dr Tracey Jensen (UEL), Dr Jan Macvarish (Kent), Dr Paula Pustulka (Jagiellonian, Poland) Dr Svetlana Stephenson (London Met)

Call for papers



Paper abstracts

Tickets and booking information via Eventbrite can be found here

For further information, please contact the organisers, Dr Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill (evr20@cam.ac.uk) and Dr Charlotte Faircloth (University of Roehampton, charlotte.faircloth@roehampton.ac.uk)


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