The parent: A cultural invention. The politics of parenting*

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The welfare state interventionist position vis-à-vis families in Sweden during the twentieth century was justified by claims of parental incompetence and children’s need for protection. Childhood was regarded as a period of growing but simultaneously a period with social rights. The development of government responsibility in support of parenting during the twentieth century reflected such an understanding of childhood. In social policy children were addressed as individual agents in the family. As a consequence, the competent child was discovered, and the need for government support of parents was cast in a new light. The need to develop parental competence became a focal point of government educational initiatives/programs at the same time as children were viewed as human moral models. Children were ascribed agency and competence with adult-like rights while the role of the welfare state scaled down in the wake of economic crises. This new imagery was underwritten by international conventions in the definition of childhood.




Sandin, B. (2017). The parent: A cultural invention. The politics of parenting*. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 14(6), 733–746.

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