Personalising Poverty: Parental Determinism and the Big Society Agenda

  • Val Gillies


Recent years have been characterised by government attempts to requisition family as a mechanism for tackling social ills. Everyday parenting practice has been pushed to the centre stage of the social policy curriculum, marking a transgression into an area previously considered private and immune from state intervention in all but the most extreme of cases. Poverty, disadvantage and many of the problems associated with it have become routinely attributed to ‘suboptimal’ parenting practices and a failure of the working classes to equip their children with appropriate personal resources and social skills. Articulated through a discourse of family competence, this evaluative focus on parenting practices has seen class differences and inequalities increasingly framed as developmental outcomes. In the process, childrearing has been reformulated as a skilled job, with the successes and privileges enjoyed by middle-class offspring credited to the proficiency of their parents.


Parenting Practice Child Poverty Parental Determinism Family Policy Coalition Government 
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© Val Gillies 2013

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  • Val Gillies

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