Call for Papers: State Intervention and Parenting in Central and Eastern Europe

2020-12-17

Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics (IEEJSP) invites original research papers for its thematic issue State Intervention and Parenting in Central and Eastern Europe (edited by Alexandra Szőke, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, and Cecília Kovai, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Budapest).

During the past decades, childhood and child raising have become increasingly debated public issues, with the appearance of an unprecedented array of experts seeking to give advice and interfere with what most people consider their private family life. In many instances in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond, it has also led to intensified state intercessions, such as parenting training programmes, early intervention measures, restrictions on home/alternative education, or pregnancy policing. States can influence parenting practices and norms through various channels: (1) policies and regulations (family support schemes, regulations on education, health care policies, etc.), (2) institutions (such as schools, medical services, child protection), and (3) the everyday practices of state officials or civil servants (teachers, welfare workers, medical practitioners, home visiting nurses/health care visitors) as they interact with parents. These state practices are highly normative, seeking to determine the ‘best’ ways of child-rearing, which reflects dominant social (often middle class and ‘white’) values. Demarcating ‘good’ parental practices from ‘bad’ ones have important consequences for families of particular ethnic or social backgrounds in terms of social acceptance and belonging, thus strengthening lines of exclusion, marginalization and deservingness. This is a gendered phenomenon, too, with particularly strong consequences for mothers, who are still often the primary caretakers (while also increasingly breadwinners), and hence the main targets of these interventions and normative pressures.

Current socio-political changes indicate an important transformation in both public understanding and policy approaches to family practices and child raising. This is strongly linked to political economic transformations on the one hand, which have resulted in the individualization of social problems, as well as the re-evaluation of children as an investment and potential future resource of economic production. These have led to the problematisation of parental behaviour, increasingly making it the focus of policy interventions and positing ‘parenting deficit’ as the root of social problems.

At the same time, it is also connected to recent changes around child-rearing, with a new parenting culture becoming globally significant, although in different degrees and forms in various national contexts. Increased risk awareness, the scientification of parenting, and a shift of focus from children to parents’ behaviour have also led to the ‘responsibilisation’ of parents. While parents are now considered primarily responsible for their children’s optimal development and future success, they are also frequently portrayed as incompetent and thus in need of the assistance of experts. This is also visible in the recent expansion of platforms (books, websites, blogs, courses) and experts (lactation specialists, parenting advisors, early development professionals), who have gained a much larger role in child raising than ever before.

The special issue aims to reflect on these recent transformations, their contextual embeddedness in particular institutional/policy settings, and their socio-spatial consequences in the Central and Eastern European context.

We are looking for contributions that discuss policies, discourses, or everyday interactions and practices through which different states seek to influence parenting; analyse the socio-spatial consequences of such interference; and examine the ways parents negotiate their child raising practices, rights and responsibilities vis-à-vis these state practices.

More specific topics can be, but are not limited to:

  • the reconfiguration of the roles of different institutions in the upbringing of the next generation of citizens;
  • the transformation of relationships of various institutions with parents (of different ethnic and social background);
  • novel collisions or co-operations between the newly appearing experts and more established professionals (usually civil servants);
  • the renegotiation of responsibilities, rights and duties of both the state and families;
  • the production of new forms of socio-spatial inequalities, or the reproduction of old ones.

We invite submissions that address these themes from different disciplinary perspectives in the social sciences (with a particular preference for ethnographically grounded research) and with regard to particular institutional settings and the contexts in which they are embedded. Abstracts of 300 words describing the main question(s) and finding(s) of the paper, together with the applied methodology (if relevant), and a short bio should be submitted by 31 January, 2021 to the Guest Editors (szoke.alexandra@krtk.hu and kovai.cecilia@tk.mta.hu). The deadline for submitting the final papers is 30 April, 2021. The issue is scheduled for publication late 2021.

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Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics (IEEJSP) is a peer-reviewed journal promoting multidisciplinary and comparative thinking on Eastern and Central European societies in a global context. IEEJSP publishes research with international relevance and encourages comparative analysis both within the region and with other parts of the world. Founded by the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, IEEJSP provides an international forum for scholars coming from and/or working on the region. The Journal is indexed by Web of Science, Scopus, CEEOL, ERIH, Google Scholar, and Index Copernicus. It has been ranked Q2 (for 2019) by ScimagoJR.