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Pregnancy and pregnancy planning in the new parenting culture

The transformation of pregnancy into a time of expert-led 'training' for potential parents will be discussed and criticised at the final Changing Parenting Culture (CPC) seminar at the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus 22-23 June.

The event will bring together academics and scholars from the UK and the US to explore the new ways pregnancy is being thought about and experienced at a time when parenthood has become the object of increasing attention and concern.

They will also explore the emergence of new, often contradictory, 'rules' shaping pregnancy and pregnancy planning by addressing questions such as: does a healthy baby require a stress-free pregnancy; should fathers be encouraged to become actively involved in guiding and shaping their partner's antenatal behaviour and choices; how does contemporary parenting culture impact on reproductive decision-making, in particular, abortion decisions; how does the new norm of 'intensive parenthood' shape the regulation of reproductive technology; and where has the advocacy of alcohol abstinence to pregnant women come from and what is its impact?

The seminar has been timed to coincide with the publication of a special issue of the journal Health, Risk and Society which will publish new research on the impact of the contemporary obsession with risks to children’s health on parenting and wider society. New papers include one by Dr Jan Macvarish of the University of Kent on the significance of such 'risk thinking' in the contemporary concern with teenage motherhood.

Participants include: Pat O’Brien, Consultant & Honorary Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Hospital London, and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology, University of Kent; Tina Miller, Reader in Sociology, Oxford Brookes University; Jonathan Ives, Lecturer in Behavioural Science and Heather Draper, Reader in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Biomedical Ethics, University of Birmingham; Rachel Jones, Senior Research Associate, Guttmacher Institute, New York; Evelyn Mahon, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin; Martin Richards, Emeritus Professor of Family Research, Cambridge University; and Julie McCandless, Lecturer in Law, Oxford Brookes University.

The seminar is a joint initiative of the University of Kent-based research network Parenting Culture Studies and the Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality. It is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

For further details, including the full programme and abstracts, go to:


Story published at 1:59pm 22 June 2010

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