Accepted Paper:

Raising Europe? Parenting trends and social solidarity in Norway and the UK   

Author:

Charlotte Faircloth (University of Roehampton )

Paper short abstract:

This paper outlines a project designed to investigate the social implications to the way we raise the next generation. Norway and the UK are contrasted as European welfare states with differing orientations to the question of social coherence, parenting and the production of ‘good citizens’.

Paper long abstract:

In Norway, parents routinely leave children in pushchairs outside shops whilst they run errands. The same practice in the UK is considered unusual at best; probably illegal, at worst. Examining parenting trends in the European context, this paper outlines a project designed to investigate the social implications to the way we raise the next generation.

Many scholars, particularly in Anglophone countries, have observed that mothers and fathers are now expected to do much more explicit 'parenting' than in the past. Rather than being a common sense activity, parents must act as expert-informed risk managers who will protect and optimise the development of their offspring, in a highly individualistic model of care. To investigate both the 'management of parents' and creation of 'good citizens', the project outlined here uses the case studies of Norway and the UK as examples of welfare states with different historical orientations to social coherence, equality and diversity.

Drawing on classical sociological themes, the research is designed to investigate how the 'intensification' of parenting has affected social solidarity or 'gemeinschaft' relations. In particular, it considers the effect of a more individualistic narrative around parenting (arguably, part of a move towards 'gesellschaft' society) on notions of trust and social cohesion in the two settings. Focussing on sites of potential antagonism in Norway and the UK - such as between the generations, genders and classes in the context of rising migration - the paper outlines potential ways of investigating the relationship between intensive parenting and notions of social corrosion.

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