Family Policy and the Politics of Parenting: From Function to Competence

  • Val GilliesEmail author
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 5)


Recent years have seen governments prioritize family as a mechanism for tackling social ills. As a result, some of the most significant social changes of late have taken place within the arena of family policy, with huge consequences for families themselves. Governments have increasingly come to see families more in terms of their practices than structures and have targeted policy interventions accordingly. Reflecting an increasing professionalization of family relationships, emphasis has been placed on the need for all parents to have access to support, advice, and guidance. In this chapter, I discuss how dominant moral constructions of family have shifted away from concerns with function and structure to embrace a new policy-centred orthodoxy of “competence.” I begin by outlining how in the UK, parenting was pushed to the centre stage of the social policy curriculum in line with a neoliberal emphasis on family, community, and personal responsibility (Gillies 2005, 2007). More specifically, the advent of the New Labour government in 1997 marked a distinct attempt to reposition family life as a public rather than a private concern.


Family Practice Private Concern Child Poverty Good Parenting Child Rear 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, Families and Social Capital Research GroupLondon South Bank UniversityLondonUK

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