The Family, Parenting Culture and Parenting Policy - SO894

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 20 (10) PROF EJ Lee







The module will explore the following indicative topics:
• Sociological analysis of the term 'parenting'
• The social history of debates about 'the family' and the sociology of privacy
• The changing meaning of childhood, motherhood and fatherhood
• The meaning of the term 'intensive parenthood' and its relation to expertise and risk culture
• The sociology of identity, as applied in studies of the experience of parenting
• The relationship of policies linking family life to broader social policy
• Critiques of state intervention in family life and of particular contemporary parenting policies


This module appears in:

Contact hours

There will be 10 two hour long sessions each covering a different topic with specified reading.
There will also be a two hour session introducing the module in Week 1 and individual meetings with students will be offered in week 9, for one on one discussion about their plans for their written assessment.



Method of assessment

One 5000 word essay

Indicative reading

Some good books, that we will refer to throughout the module:

Lee, E. 2014. 'Introduction'. In E. Lee, J. Bristow, C.Faircloth and J.Macvarish, Parenting Culture Studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Gillies, V. 2011. ‘From Function to Competence: engaging with the new politics of the family’. Sociological Research Online 16(4)11

The following books discuss important themes covered in the module and are all good to read for the Module in general:

Lee, E. Bristow, J., Faircloth C., and Macvarish, J. 2014. Parenting Culture Studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Furedi, F. 2008. Paranoid Parenting. London: Continuum

Faircloth, C., Hoffman, D. and Layne, L.L. 2013. Parenting in Global Perspective: Negotiating Ideologies of Kinship, Self and Politics London and New York: Routledge (Introduction)

Bristow, J. 2016. The Sociology of Generations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (especially Chapter 5).

Macvarish, J. 2016. Neuroparenting and the Expert Invasion of Family Life. Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Additional general reading for the Module as a whole:

Kagan, J. 1998. Three Seductive Ideas. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass. (Chapter 1)

Elias, N. 1998. ‘The Civilizing of Parents', in J. Goudsblom and S. Mennell (eds) The Norbert Elias Reader. Blackwell: Oxford

Hardyment, C. 2007. Dream babies, Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford. London: Francis Lincoln Ltd (Especially chapter 6)

Hoffman, D. 2009. ‘How (not) to feel: culture and the politics of emotion in the American parenting advice literature’. Discourse 30(1): 15-31 (On Moodle)

Faircloth, C. and Lee, E. 2010. ‘Changing Parenting Culture’. Sociological Research Online 15 (4) 1

Ramaekers, S. and Suissa, J. 2011. ‘Parents as "Educators": Languages of Education, Pedagogy and “Parenting”’, Ethics and Education, 6(2): 197-212.

Ramaekers, S. and Suissa, J. 2012. The Claims of Parenting: Reasons, responsibility and society. London and New York: Springer.

Macvarish, J. 2010. ‘Understanding the Significance of the Teenage Mother in Contemporary Parenting Culture’. Sociological Research Online, 15 (4) 3

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module successful students will:

• Be familiar with sociological accounts of the term 'parenting', be able to situate ‘parenting’ as a social problem in a wider historical content by acquiring understanding of the sociology of ‘the family’, and be able to identify and understand the links between sociological theories of risk society, public/private, identity formation, and ‘parenting’.
• Using sociological insights be able to identify and critically analyse the ideologies and values that underpin contemporary concerns about parenting and related policy developments.
• Be able to discuss in written form sociological accounts of the family, parenting culture and parenting policy and communicate the nuances and complexities of these accounts.
• Demonstrate an ability to assess the validity of explanations given for the problem of ‘parenting’ and present sociologically reasoned arguments.

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