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Accepted Paper:

Trusting the numbers or trusting your gut: Negotiations of 'proper' parenting and child development in the encounters between state provisioned children's nurses and parents in Denmark  
Anne Sophie Grauslund (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offers an anthropological examination of state provisioned visits by children's nurses (sundhedsplejersker) to new parents in Denmark as a ground for the production and negotiation of moral perceptions of 'proper' parenting and conceptions of health, normality and deviance of children.

Paper long abstract:

When having a child in Denmark, it is customary for parents to receive a course of visits from a public children's nurse (sundhedsplejerske), where health and development of the child and the wellbeing of the parents are checked and discussed. The meeting between new parents and visiting children's nurses is an overlooked ground for the production and negotiation of moral perceptions of 'proper' parenting as well as health, normality and deviance of children and parenthood. In this paper, I will explore the epistemological grounds on which the nurses build their advice and recommendations and examine them in relation to the parents' perspectives on infants and parenting. First, I examine what I call 'living by numbers': How parents relate to themselves and their children through technologies and the numbers they generate - and how the nurses encourage this practice. Then, I explore the phenomenological traits of the nurses' work, their advice about learning to trust one's gut and listen to one's body and feelings. I relate this to how parents often struggle to 'find' and get in touch with their instincts, and I examine the metrics as a way of handling the uncertainty and anxiety related to having small children. Lastly, I explore the tensions between these different approaches to infant parenting, a tension also found in the nursing discipline's background in both biomedicine and care work, and I examine how the official structures and disciplinary background of the nurses affect how the parents buy into the different approaches.

Panel P090a
Revisiting street-level bureaucrat encounters: from discretion and authority to emotional labour and moral contingencies I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -