The Culture of Parenthood. Part I
The focus of this session is on historical and contemporary cultural understandings of motherhood and fatherhood. Current understandings of proper parenthood and children’s needs in Western societies emphasize intensive, child-centred parenting that focuses in particular on brain development and the future intellectual potential of children. Children today are viewed as more passive, more vulnerable, and more dependent on parents for longer periods of time than in the recent past. Their needs have also been increasingly positioned in opposition to parental needs. The family as several authors have suggested has become understood less as an integrated system of relationships among members and more as an ecosystem for a developing child. Several inter-related and powerful discourses came together over the course of the 20th and 21stcenturies to contribute to these understandings. These include the cultural understandings fostered by developmental psychology, child-rearing experts’ co-optation of neuroscience, neoliberal politics and rationality, risk discourse and gendered and classed understandings of proper parenthood.
This session welcomes papers that address the development and/or manifestations of contemporary cultural understandings of motherhood, fatherhood and childhood as well as those that examine the implications these understandings have for issues of class and gender equality, social policy formation and contemporary family experiences.