The argument that ‘early intervention’ in the lives of babies and young children is the most effective way to tackle social problems such as poverty, educational inequality, mental health and crime has become more and more central to policy making in the UK and elsewhere. Indeed, as we have noted in discussion of pregnancy the imperative to ‘intervene early’ has come to strongly influence messages to parents-to-be and programmes and policies directed to them. This theme is discussed in our book, Parenting Culture Studies, in particular in Chapter Three, ‘The Politics of Parenting‘ and in the essay ‘Babies’ Brains and Parenting Policy‘, you can watch videos of author Jan Macvarish discussing these by following the links.
Since the inception of CPCS we have organized discussions seeking to interrogate the underlying supposition of early intervention advocacy, namely that what parents do, or do not do, determines their child’s future, and also is directly responsible for the development of larger social problems. In particular, we have sought to engage the claim that such parental determinism can legitimately lay claim to a basis in scientific evidence. As we discussed at our 2011 event Monitoring Parents: Science, evidence, experts and the new parenting culture this recourse to scientised claims-making more and more makes reference to neuroscience.
Our recent research project, Biologising Parenting: Neuroscience discourse and English social and public health policy was about this development. If you follow the above link you can find:
– Links to our peer reviewed publications from the project, published in Health, Risk and Society and Sociology Compass
– A summary document of study findings
– Resources from the dissemination event for the project, including a voice recording of the talk given by John Bruer, author of The Myth of the First Three Years
– Links to other useful resources
We are very interesting in collaborating with others in the future who are looking into the ‘scientisation’ of parenting; email J.Macvarish@kent.ac.uk if this applies to you!