Previous forums

Autumn 2023

Gender, Identity and Parenting Culture, Wednesday 8th November 3-5pm GMT, with Matilda Gosling and Dr Jennie Bristow

We were delighted to welcome Matilda Gosling to present on her research and work about teenagers and gender identity. She spoke particularly about the work she has done to provide resources for parents, and how she sees the demands on and responsibilities of parents, and the response to her work in this area. CPCS Associate Dr Jennie Bristow offered her thoughts on the wider context in which parenting is cast as a political act.

Background reading:

Dr Jennie Bristow: Plastic culture and politicised parenting

Mathilda Gosling: Teenagers and gender identity – the evidence base

Speakers Bios

Matilda Gosling Matilda is a social research consultant with more than 20 years’ experience, including 12 years running an international research consultancy. Her areas of expertise are children and young people, and education and skills. She has researched and co-authored a 3-part series of briefings for the organisation Sex Matters on teenagers and gender identity. She has two forthcoming books with Swift Press about parenting and the evidence base.

Dr Jennie Bristow  Jennie is senior lecturer in sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University and an associate of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies. She is author of a number of books about generational relations and conflict, including The Corona Generation: coming of age in a crisis (Zer0 books 2020, with Emma Gilland), and Stop Mugging Grandma: the ‘generation wars’ and why Boomer-blaming won’t solve anything (Yale University Press 2019). She is co-author of Parenting Culture Studies (second edition to be published by Palgrave in 2024), and co-editor of Studying Generations: Multidisciplinary perspectives (Bristol University Press 2024).

Summer 2023

CPCS Forum ‘When parenting culture goes global’, with introduction from Dr Gabriel Scheidecker

This discussion raised questions about the science and effects of early childhood intervention, focusing on the Global South

When and Where Date and time: Jun 26, 2023 11:00 AM BST, On Zoom

About this event  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.

Further info and booking

Spring 2021

Parenting panic: Child veganism as a battleground between parents and experts. May 2021. View abstract.

In most European countries, in contrast with North America, a vegan diet is not recommended for children. Public health experts and paediatricians warn about risks of deficiencies associated with a vegan diet, which they regard as especially worrisome for growing children. Meanwhile, more and more children are born or become vegans every year.

In this talk, I present early results from an ongoing qualitative case study of child veganism in Switzerland. A controversy in ongoing in Switzerland, as in many European countries. Whereas mainstream health experts, medical associations and government agencies advise against child veganism, vegan associations and parents plead for normalizing child veganism. I analyse conflicting discourses on child nutrition among health experts and vegan parents by collecting nutritional guidelines and conducting interviews with key health experts and vegan parents.

I argue that controversies on child veganism form a moral panic, where both experts and parents emphasize potential risks and moral values to advocate for or against a vegan diet. In contemporary parenting culture, parent-expert relations can generally be qualified as “delegated biopolitics”: a power relationship where parents are tasked with close monitoring of their offspring under expert guidance. The moral panic over child veganism, I argue, is fuelled by a mutual distrust between experts and parents and thus disrupts the usual mechanism of delegated biopolitics. I also ask whether and how child veganism reinforces the “intensive mothering” culture by translating into more work for mothers. Finally, I will reflect on the construction of children’s bodies as vulnerable and discuss its consequences in light of contemporary reproductive politics.

Speaker bio: Edmée Ballif is a postdoctoral fellow of the Swiss National Research Foundation and a visiting scholar at the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies (University of Kent) and the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (University pf Cambridge). Her research interests lie in the area of reproduction and parenting, social problems and social stratification based on gender, race, class or nation. She holds a BA in Social sciences and History of Religions, an MA in the sociology of religions and a PhD in social sciences.

Autumn 2020

‘Parenting the Pandemic’ was held on 9 December 2020. This was be introduced by Dr Charlotte Faircloth (Associate Professor in Social Science, UCL Social Research Institute) sharing reflections on the ‘Families and Community in a Time of Covid 19‘ project. Professor Val Gillies (University of Westminster) led the discussion. Slides and a recording of the event are now available.

Autumn 2019

Post-Graduate Presentations, Verity Pooke (University of Kent) and Raquel Arias (University of Bergen, Norway)
16 October 2019

The Board Room, First Floor, Cornwallis East, University of Kent


Verity Pooke, Emergency Contraceptive Pillls (ECP) as a Social Problem in the Age of Safe Sex

The presentation will give an overview of the findings from the PhD research, Emergency Contraceptive Pills as a Social Problem in an Era of Safe Sex. Using a social constructionist approach to the study of social problems the research has explored the lived experience of individuals who participate in the social problem process. The presentation will outline the premise of the micro-sociological approach used to explore the lived experience of the social problem individual, influenced by the work of Goffman, Best and Loseke. By adopting a social constructionist understanding of identity work carried out individuals, the research has explored the contemporary social problem of Emergency Contraception in the UK.

The presentation examines how the ECP is constructed as a social problem in a wider context through process of claims and claims making activities, taking shape as a pharmakon with dual meanings. The contraceptive pill is neither promoted nor denied as a contraceptive option; it sits as an “anomaly” in women’s contraceptive repertoire. The research set out to explore how this wider construct impact the lived realities of those who come into direct contact with the problem. Three participant groups were sampled for this investigation; those who distribute the ECP (sexual health nurses), those who have used the ECP (women users) and those who access the ECP (women of reproductive age).

The analysis examines the roles the different social problem individuals take on in the social problem process on the micro level and suggest that the wider social problem activities do impact the lived experiences of those who live within the social problem process. Addressing themes of social problems, risk, medicalisation, sexual health policy and women’s autonomy, the research contributes the field of study in the investigation of social problems whilst identifying an important area of health policy.

Verity Pooke is a Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Kent and ESRC PhD Candidate in Social Policy at the University of Kent. Her research interests lie in areas of health policy, sexual and reproductive health care and services, social problems, and risk. She holds a BA in Sociology and Social Policy and an MA in Social Research Methods.

Raquel Arias, Self-Legitimation and Sense-Making of Southern European Parents’ Migration to Norway: the Role of Family Aspirations

My presentation will introduce my PhD project that explores Southern European migrant parents’ experiences of parenting in Norway. I will present my article “Self-Legitimation and Sense-Making of Southern European Parents’ Migration to Norway: the Role of Family Aspirations”, which will be the second article in my PhD thesis. This paper explores the migration narratives of Southern European parents living in Norway. A strong theme that emerged in the parents’ stories of migration was their family projects. They constructed migration as a strategy to fulfil their aspiration to have a family in the family-friendly, gender-egalitarian and child-centred country of Norway.

The analysis sheds light into the informants’ storytelling and meaning making and the ways in which family aspirations manifested. The migrant parents told stories of satisfaction, disillusionment and sacrifice articulated around family life after migration. By articulating their migration through their family aspirations, the migrant parents claim a position as subjects in Norwegian discourses on parenting and citizenship, and they distance themselves from discourses on labour immigration and immigrant parenting.

Raquel Herrero-Arias is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Health Promotion and Development at the University of Bergen. Her research interests lie in the areas of migration; parenting; family policies, and intimate partner violence. She holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work and Anthropology, a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies and an Erasmus Mundus Master in Social Work with Families and Children.

Reading group
27 November 2019

The Board Room, First Floor, Cornwallis East, University of Kent

Our November event was a reading group based around work by Diana Baumrind, and focussed on the problem of socialisation and adulthood.

Summer 2019

CPCS@kent Summer Term event : Rethinking medicalisation and pregnancy
30 June 2019

The Boardroom, First Floor, Cornwallis East

Discussion followed by drinks at the Gulbenkian café

This discussion will be based around presentations by Hannah Pereira (ESRC-funded PhD candidate, SSPSSR, University of Kent) and Zehra Zeynep Sadıkoğlu (Visiting Researcher SSPSSR, Istanbul Medeniyet University).


Hannah Pereira: Early Medical Abortion and the Values of Doctors who Provide Abortion: a case of De-medicalisation?

This presentation will discuss some findings from an interview study carried out with 47 doctors who perform abortion in Britain. The study overall, conducted as research for a PhD, seeks to investigate the professional values of doctors whose work is focussed on providing abortion to women, as part of present healthcare services. The research in general explores shifts in medicalisation, both as a form of morality and as practice. The concept ‘medicalisation’, drawing on the foundational work and ideas of figures including Friedson (1970), and Zola (1972), has been central to much socio-legal and sociological scholarship about abortion. This work has emphasised the question of medical power, and the ways in which medical authority has been looked to both as part of the regulation of access to abortion in law and policy, and in the practice of providing abortion. The present study re-engages this concept at a point in time when the legal context for abortion provision in Britain has become newly debated, and where changes to technologies and approaches to abortion provision have generated new tensions. The focus for this presentation will be on Early Medical Abortion, in particular ‘home use’. It will consider tensions apparent in what interviewees had to say, between ‘women centred abortion care’ and ‘concerns for patient safety’, and consider the relation between these tensions, and the shifts in the medicalisation of abortion.

Zehra Zeynep Sadıkoğlu: The Medicalization of Pregnancy and Childbirth in Contemporary Turkey: The Effect of Risk Discourses for Turkish Women’s Experiences

Turkish mothers’ interactions with medical authorities during pregnancy and childbirth has developed in a context of risk discourses produced by biomedical experts with surveillance justified by these discourses. Giving meaning to pregnancy and childbirth through the search for the reduction of risks is a reflexive part of Turkish mothers’ everyday life. This paper discusses a study examining how pregnancy and childbirth are socially constructed, how increased medicalization is experienced by Turkish mothers, and how they assign meaning to pregnancy and childbirth. A phenomenological research was designed using depth interviews with 10 Turkish mothers with children aged 0-6, living in Istanbul who had high education and welfare levels. The findings shed light on Turkish mothers’ subjective experiences and how medicine as a profession shapes this experience.

Spring 2019

Film screening: ‘Birthday Parents’
12 March 2019

UCL: SSRU Seminar room (18 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0NR).

Drinks and nibbles provided by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Department of Social Science, UCL

The fictional short film Birthday Parents communicates the outcomes of the research project, “Parenting Cultures and Risk Management in Plural Norway”, led by CPCS Associate Professor Hilde Danielsen. The film Birthday Parents directed by accomplished artist Savas Boyraz,  was made in close cooperation with the researchers Danielsen, Bendixsen and Sundsbø. Boyraz grew up in Instabul and has his art education from Sweden, giving him an outsider perspective on the phenomenon of birthdays. 

The project sheds light on some of the challenges for parents in ’plural’ Norway, by concentrating on the organization of birthday parties. While being a seemingly innocent gathering for children, birthday parties are an important platform upon which many of the social and political aspects of parenting and upbringing, negotiations of private and public, are imagined and performed.

The film lasts for 20 minutes and has subtitles in Norwegian, English and Arabic. A Q and A with Professor Hilde Danielsen will follow the screening. 

Please RSVP to c.faircloth AT so we have an idea of numbers – all welcome! 

The Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction and Kent Law School are supporting half day event:

Disruptive Technologies: Fertility control pills in the past, present and future
20 March 2019

Venue: Moot Chamber, Wigoder Building, Kent Law School, University of Kent.

This event comprises a set of discussions on the historical aspects and social impact of fertility control technology. Panel discussions will cover the contraceptive pill, the ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Pill), and EMA (Early Medical Abortion). University of Kent researchers will be joined by writers and campaigners including Dr Lara Marks, author of Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill, British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s Director of External Affairs Clare Murphy, and Dr Goretti Horgan from Ulster University. This event is open to all and FREE to attend but you need to book a place in advance. The afternoon’s discussion will be followed by drinks.

More details and to sign up for tickets

For any more information about the day please contact Verity Pooke at

Autumn 2018

The Business of Birth Control: Contraceptives as Commodities before the Pill
12 December 2018

Introduced by Dr Claire Jones, Lecturer in the History of Medicine

Cornwallis East Seminar Room 1

Background Reading:
‘Under the Covers? Commerce, Contraceptives and Consumers in England and Wales, 1880–1960’

Followed by end of term drinks.

CPCS@kent Summer Term discussion
20 June 2018

This will be our last discussion of this academic year. Professor Frank Furedi and Dr Jennie Bristow will give introductions, about their ‘work-in-progress’ writing projects, which focus on the theme of socialisation, education and youth identity.

Time: 3pm to 5pm

Venue: Grimond Seminar 1, University of Kent

Followed by an end of year drink.

Recommended reading: Jeffrey Arnett, ‘Emerging Adulthood’

Intensive parenting: an Anglo-American problem?
28 February 2018

Venue: Cornwallis NW, Seminar Room 4 

Introduction: Tina Haux, Lecturer in Quantitative Social Policy, SSPSSR

Chaired by Jennie Bristow, senior lecturer in sociology, CCCU, author, The Sociology of Generations (Palgrave, 2017)

The new book Achtung Baby: the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children has received a lot of recent media coverage. Written by America author Sara Zaske, it positively contrasts German attitudes to childhood, and parenting, to those said to dominate US culture. Coverage in the UK press suggests some think the British could similarly learn a great deal from Germany. All welcome for this discussion about ‘intensive parenting’ in comparative perspective.

Suggested Reading:

Achtung Baby: the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children (via this link you can listen to the author talking about the book)

USA Today article

The Times article

Jennie Bristow, ‘Helicopter or hands-off: today’s parents can’t seem to win’, The Conversation

Jennie Bristow, The Double Bind of Parenting Culture: Helicopter Parents and Cotton Wool Kids’ (book chapter)

Please note that this event has been cancelled due to planned Industrial action affecting universities, including the University of Kent. Please contact us if you were planning to attend

Abortion in Britain: past, present and future
21 March 2018

Venue: Wigoder Building, University of Kent, Canterbury

Marking the 50th Anniversary of the passage and implementation of the Abortion Act 1967, CPCS has organised an afternoon of discussion, together with Kent’s Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Reproduction (CISoR). All Welcome.

1.30-2pm Tea and Coffee

2-3.15pm ‘Kind to Women: how the 1967 Abortion Act changed our lives’

Film show and Q and A with film director, Jayne Kavanagh (UCL Medical School)

About the film:

The passing of the 1967 Abortion Act was a pivotal moment for women’s health and women’s lives. The culmination of decades of campaigning, it finally ended the horror of deaths from self-induced and backstreet abortions. It precipitated the public funding of contraception for all and meant that, finally, women were able to choose when and whether to have children. In this moving documentary, women who survived illegal abortion and the nurses who picked up the pieces when things went wrong, and campaigning doctors and abortion rights advocates share vivid memories of the time; and bring to life the story of this ground breaking legislation and of a historic turning point for women’s rights.

‘…bringing the real life experience of women to the forefront of the discussion in such a gripping way. Congratulations on an excellent piece of work…’ ‘Shed some tears. Admire the bravery of the participants’

‘Extremely powerful and empowering.’

3.30-5pm ‘The future of abortion: the case for decriminalisation’
Discussion with opening comments from Professor Sally Sheldon (Kent Law School) and Ann Furedi, CEO, British Pregnancy Advisory Service and author, The Moral Case for Abortion.

5-6pm Drinks Reception, and met the author, with Ann Furedi

This event is free to attend but please book here

22 November 2017:
Bad Beginnings? A Qualitative Study of Prison Mother and Baby Units

Cornwallis NW, Seminar Room 3

Discussion Introduction by Rose Mortimer, DPhil Candidate, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, and member of the BeGOOD Early Intervention Project

In recent years, early intervention (EI) has received growing policy attention within the UK. The Early Intervention Foundation describes EI as “taking action as soon as possible to tackle problems for children and families before they become more difficult to reverse” (EIF 2016); such problems include poor physical and mental health, ill-preparedness for school and work, poverty, unemployment, and crime. In practice, EI means identifying children who are at risk of being “poorly parented” (Loughton 2015, 3) and providing support through a range of services such as antenatal care and parenting classes.

Interestingly, the children of prisoners are notably absent from UK EI policy. However, there are six Mother and Baby Units within UK women’s prisons where babies and toddlers reside with their mothers for up to 18 months. Although the term ‘early intervention’ is seldom used in this context, in practice a large part of the work done within MBUs focuses on building parenting skills and generally providing women with the knowledge and confidence to become good mums – and by extension – to be and to raise good citizens, and in so doing, build a better society.

In this presentation I will discuss some of the preliminary findings from my qualitative research with mums and staff in the mother and baby unit within HMP Styal, a women’s prison in the North West of England. Through a combination of interviews, focus groups and participant observation I explore how the prison’s goal of rehabilitation is tied to the identities of these women as mothers, what it means to make a woman a ‘good mother’ in this context, and how prison programs and environments are designed to achieve this goal. A study of prison MBUs allows me to explore key ethical concepts such as autonomy, responsibility, care and justice.

1 February 2017:
‘War – a family affair. Anthropological perspectives on family life, parenting and gender in the light of military deployment’

Introduced by Maj Hedegaard Heiselberg, visiting PhD student with CPCS

3pm, Cornwallis North West, Seminar Room 4


My presentation will first of all be an introduction to my PhD project which focuses on Danish soldiers and their families before, during and after military deployment. I will present some of my initial findings, including the article “Fighting for the Family: overcoming distances in time and space”, which will be one out of three analytical articles in my PhD thesis. Secondly, I wish to discuss the arguments of my second article, which I will be working on during my stay in the UK. The main aim of the article is to understand the struggles faced by women married to soldiers as they try to balance professional careers and family life during deployment. Based on ethnographic examples, I argue that the frustrations experienced by these women are something else and more than a sacrifice of time. The tasks of everyday family life are interwoven with notions of parenthood, gender and identity, and thus these women’s situation becomes an issue not only of gender equality and family life in the Danish military but also a reminder to empirically and analytically acknowledge the everyday.

About the speaker

I am a PhD Student at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen and the Danish Veteran Centre. My PhD Project focuses on Danish families going through military deployment. Based on ethnographic fieldwork before, during and after military deployment, I examine how soldiers’ spouses and younger children experience everyday family life when separated from their husband and father. From an analytical perspective, my project seeks to understand how expectations of intimacy and presence within family relations are challenged and negotiated by families attempts of staying in touch during deployment. By shedding light on the struggles faced by women married to soldiers, as they try to balance professional careers and family life, the study furthermore discusses norms and ideals about parenthood and gender in a Danish context. Finally, my project is a critical study of the Danish military and an attempt to understand processes of militarization by investigating the relationship between the two institutions – family and military. Prior to this PhD project I studied parenting and fatherhood among Danish fathers on paternity leave in Copenhagen as part of my MA in anthropology

You can watch Maj’s presentation here

15 March 2017:
Emergency Contraception in an era of ‘safe sex’

3pm, Cornwallis North West, Seminar Room 4

Verity Pooke ESRC Social Policy PhD Candidate SSPSSR, University of Kent

Women in 2017 have a greater choice in methods of contraception than ever before, with over 15 different methods available women have plenty to choose from when making a decision on contraception that suits their lifestyle. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest in recent years with an increase in ‘safe sex’ messages that health policy has introduced a new discourse on women’s autonomy on reproductive rights and sexual health. However, research has shown that the emergency contraceptive pill has become an anomaly in the contraceptive repertoire for a modern woman. Using the study of social problems as a form of an analysis, this research evaluates the social construct of the under used method of contraception, to understand the role of emergency contraception in a modern era of safe sex messages and initiatives. Using qualitative research methods; semi structure interviews and focus groups, this project aims to document the real-life experiences of women using and choosing methods of contraception. Equally, it examines the discourse that surrounds the emergency contraceptive pill product in the UK and evaluates whether these messages have been received by women who use the product. The purpose of this research that is contributing to a PhD thesis is to highlight the ongoing issue with women’s autonomy in health policy, whilst addressing various contemporary issues with women’s reproductive health and rights using social problem theory as an analysis.

POSTPONED in 2016: ‘The Generation Wars’, introduced by Jennie Bristow.

Details of Jennie’s book The Sociology of Generations here

Read more about the sociology of generations here

See also:

‘What is a Citizen?’ by Jennie Bristow

‘The Generation Wars’ by Jennie Bristow

2nd December 2015 featured a discussion of Berger and Berger’s The War Over the Family introduced by CPCS’s Dr Jan Macvarish. 

A recent forum included the launch of Jennie Bristow’s new book, Baby Boomers and Generational Conflict. Details are here.

CPCSForums@Kent Spring 2015

CPCSForums@Kent Summer 2014

CPCSForums@Kent Spring 2014

CPCSForums@Kent Autumn 2o13

CPCSForums@Kent Spring 2013

CPCSForums@Kent Autumn 2012

CPCSForums@Kent Summer 2012

CPCSForums@Kent Spring 2012

CPCSForums@Kent Autumn 2011

CPCSForums@Kent Spring 2011

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