Capable to Care? Parenting Support Policies and the Changing Concept of Care

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
John McIntyre - Teaching Room 208 (University of Glasgow)
Asa Lundqvist , Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden
This paper explores the changing meanings and understandings of the concept of care in parenting support policies in Sweden since the 1990s. Caring responsibilities and practices has historically been framed and negotiated within general family policy reforms, comprising universal child allowances and generous parental leave schemes combined with publicly funded childcare, in turn closely related to the relationship between the parents’ (mothers and fathers) on the one hand and the parent’s and the state on the other – the ‘caring state’. Parenting support policies – aiming at improving and supporting parents in their child-rearing competencies and skills – emerged as a part of this framework. In the case of parenting support policies however, the profound economic crisis and ensuing austerity policies in the 1990s paved the way for new ideas and policy debates on individualization, freedom of choice and how to best practice parenthood, indicating a discursive shift towards the “autonomous” and “competent parent”. As a result, the very foundation of the ‘caring state’ was interlocked with other ideals, based on ‘caring capabilities’, i.e. parents’ capabilities to take care of their own children.
  • LundqvistCES.pdf (178.5 kB)