Accepted Paper:

Governing parenting and the contradictions of postneoliberalism in Amsterdam  

Author:

Anouk de Koning (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

The Dutch post-neoliberal model stresses volunteering and citizens’ ‘own strength’. This focus clashes with continuing concerns about weak social cohesion due to ethnic diversity. I explore how these tensions play out in policies related to (migrant) parenting in Amsterdam.

Paper long abstract:

Like other European states, the Dutch state attempts to develop a post or late neoliberal model that combines state retrenchment with an emphasis on neighbourliness, volunteering and citizens' 'own strength'. Such discourses entail the devolution of responsibilities and action to the local level, often the neighbourhood, and a reliance on notions of active citizenship and communal care and solidarity. These new tropes are markedly at odds with concerns about weak social cohesion at the level of the nation, city and neighbourhood on account of growing ethno-cultural diversity, which have dominated politics and policies in the Netherlands for the last decades. The language of local community and active citizenship sits uncomfortably with images of problematic diversity and the emergence of parallel ethnic life worlds.

This paper uses municipal policy related to the governance of parenting in Amsterdam to explore how these tensions play out. Policy engagements with migrant parents in particular can bring out the contradictions of the present post or late neoliberal moment in the 'new Europe'. On the one hand, migrant parents are called upon to take on a more active or 'responsible' role in their children's lives, while, on the other, governmental actors fear that these parents' initiatives and their notions of good parenting may be at odds with the 'Dutch values' and be detrimental to the 'full' integration of people with migrant backgrounds, which would entail a threat to the much desired cohesive society.

Panel P115
Raising Europe: managing parents and the production of good citizens