Bad parenting is so often blamed for Britain’s ‘broken society’, manifesting in sites as diverse as the government reaction to the riots of 2011, popular ‘entertainment’ like Supernanny and the discussion boards of Mumsnet.
This book examines how these pathologising ideas of failing, chaotic and dysfunctional families are manufactured across media, policy and public debate and how they create a powerful consensus that Britain is in the grip of a ‘parent crisis’.
It tracks how crisis talk around parenting has been used to police and discipline families who are considered to be morally deficient and socially irresponsible. Most damagingly, it has been used to justify increasingly punitive state policies towards families in the name of making ‘bad parents’ more responsible.
Is the real crisis in our perceptions rather than reality? This is essential reading for anyone engaged in policy and popular debate around parenting.
"Quite simply a stunning tour de force. A riveting, page-turning dissection of the relationships between parenting culture, policy and neoliberalism... it analyses a staggering variety of texts and draws upon extensive interview data to explore the roots and ramifications of ‘mother-blame’ in particular. It is a highly original and profoundly important sociological analysis... It is destined to become not only the book to read on parent-blame under neoliberal statecraft, but a classic in feminist media studies and political sociology. Beautifully written with a voice of urgency and integrity, the book offers... an illustration of why politically engaged and theoretically informed scholarship is so important in the context of chronic and widening social inequalities." Dr Tom Slater, University of Edinburgh
"A timely, energetic, and engaging critique of the presumptions behind parent-blaming in culture and policy-making." Dr Jennie Bristow, Canterbury Christ Church University
"A valuable contribution to the debate about the significance of ‘parenting’ and an educative case study in the social construction of the ‘bad parent’." Jan Macvarish, University of Kent
Tracey Jensen is Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests are concerned with: the reproduction of inequalities and divisions through and across identity categories; policy and popular debates of social mobility and immobility; and parenting culture as it travels across different media and cultural sites and manifests in policy.
Mothercraft to Mumsnet
The Cultural Industry of Parent Blame
Parenting – with feeling
Parenting in austere times: warmth and wealth
Weaponising parent-blame in post-welfare Britain
Epilogue: ‘Mummy Maybot’: a new age of authoritarian neoliberalism