Children and the Desire for Transmission

  • Anne Muxel
Part of the Europe in Transition: The Nyu European Studies Series book series (EIT)


For parents, children are a prolongation of the self, though this may not always be an explicit wish. Not many children can claim to have escaped their parents’ expectations, the intentions embedded in the education they have given them, or their desire for transmission even when this is not explicitly felt. Furthermore, it has long been established that political education is a domain largely reserved to parents. Fully 85 percent of parents believe their role is primordial in this very private domain.1 However, parents tend not to be very verbose on the subject. The majority of them, 61 percent, say they rarely or never talk about politics with their children. Only 7 percent do so often and 32 percent from time to time.2 The “black box” effect described by Michel Foucault is perfectly illustrated here. The reasons for this soft approach toward one’s children are perhaps due to an excessive desire for resemblance and transmission that politics may well crystallize. It is not always easy to express or come to terms with this type of desire. Jean-Paul, a 48-year-old drama teacher bears witness to this ambivalence when he talks about his two teenage daughters. “Whatever political choices they may make, I think they have understood the need to be involved. It would bother me if my daughters were not interested in politics. If that did happen, I’d try to communicate with them. But that doesn’t mean I want them to be like us and to think like us.”


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  1. 3.
    François de Singly, “Jusqu’où nos enfants sont-ils nos enfants?,” in Michel Wieviorka (ed.), Nos Enfants (Auxerre: Sciences Humaines Editions, 2008), pp. 17–27.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Bernard This, Le Père: acte de naissance (Paris: Le Seuil, “Points” series, 1991).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2014

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  • Anne Muxel

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