Eva Gulløv, Professor of Educational Anthropology at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) & Professor at the Department of Education, University of Agder (Norway), has written extensively within the field of childhood studies. Among her publications is:
Gilliam, L., & Gulløv, E. (2017). Children of the welfare state: Civilising practices in schools, childcare and families.
Conference Abstract: Doing family right. The influence of child-institutions on family-practices, parental norms and social distinctions.
Over the last century, children’s lives have become still more institutionalized in most European countries. Though the organizational structure differs, day-cares and schools have been entrusted with the task of moulding children into proper social beings and educated citizens. This endeavour has increasingly come to include parents, as they are required to organize family-life in ways that support the institutional work and raise their children to be ‘educationable’ and fit for institutional life. Thus, child institutions have a standardizing impact on family-practices as well as on notions of child-rearing and parenthood.
However, institutional norms also have differentiating effects. Whenever the norms conflict with specific parents’ conditions, values or upbringing practices, professionals will problematize the behaviour in ways that might emphasise cultural, social, or ethnic differences. Also, other parents might distance themselves from what they see as inappropriate behaviour, often associated with certain positions of social class and ethnicity. In this way, parenting practices have become markers of distinction, reflecting the moral standards set and authorized by child-institutions.
In this lecture, I will reflect on the standardizing and differentiating processes occurring around child institutions, and point out the implications they have on family life and norms of child-rearing, yet also – in a wider perspective – for the production of social divisions in society.