Increasing Family Diversity and Persistent Normative Conceptions of Childhood in Public Social Services and Early Education Services

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Manuela NALDINI, University of Turin, Italy
Arianna SANTERO, University of Turin, Italy
Roberta BOSISIO, University of Turin, Italy
Families have entered a ‘late modern’ epoch of ‘de-traditionalisation’ and ‘subjectivity’ with a variety of forms, practices and experiences of ‘family life’. While heterosexual married households still dominate across Europe, cohabitations and births outside of marriage are on the rise as well as one-parent families, blended families, same-sex parent families, and migrant families. Family diversity is introducing a further pluralisation of parenting, gender, motherhood and fatherhood models and representations of childhood. However, this change has not always been accompanied by an adaptation of public policies and practices towards the recognition of diverse patterns of parenthood and childhood.

This paper is focused on family diversity and especially on parent-child relationship in same-sex parent families and migrant families. By giving voice to both individuals belonging to these families, and public institutions, such as early care and educational services, pre-primary and primary schools (ISCED 0-1) and social services, at the forefront of everyday interaction with ‘new’ families, we aim at investigating what barriers parents and children concretely face in building and living their families and how especially local institutions respond to these needs.

In particular, the project tries to address the following research questions:

- Which barriers do children belonging to new family forms encounter when dealing with the public institutions above mentioned?

- In what ways educators, teachers, school administrators and social workers define normative models of “childhood” and the “good” family, and how do these frames shape their practices in a context of welfare state austerity?

The paper is based on qualitative interviews with key informants in social and educational services, migrant and homosexual parents and children with same-sex parents.

The research has been conducted in Italy, an interesting case for having experienced local ‘best practices’ in this policy area, yet still in need to better respond to the ‘new’ families.