14 SES 03 B, Family Education, Parenting and School-Family-Community Links I
There is a broad common sense among (family) researchers that ‘family’ has undergone profound transformations, making it more difficult to define ‘family’ (e.g. Budgeon & Roseneil, 2004; Edwards & Gillies, 2012). It is tempting to frame this conceptual crisis in a negative way, understanding the fragility of the term as a sign to dismiss, replace or reorient ‘family’ as a relevant (sociological) concept. In this paper, we develop a theoretical argument that the complexity of the term points to an important pedagogical value, hence framing the conceptual crisis in a positive way. Put differently: ‘family’ has undergone indeed profound transformations, making it more difficult to define ‘family’ and this conceptual ambiguity influences (what) the pedagogical ‘task’ or side of family (should be), but, we will argue, the crisis also creates a space for a ‘forgotten’ (or ‘suppressed’) characteristic of childrearing: the experience of aporia (e.g. Mollenhauer, 1986). Attempts to ‘know’ what ‘good’ childrearing practices are or should involve – through ever more elaborate theoretical frameworks, based on empirical ‘evidence’ – are ethically problematical (e.g. Ramaekers & Suissa, 2012). Embracing the idea that we (as parents) often not know where to begin or what to say or do, hence lacking a ‘clear path’ (a-poros), can lead to a thoughtful examination of the uniqueness of the situation and the persons involved.
How will we develop our argument? (1) Drawing on two well-known archetypes of ‘family’- the ‘pre-modern’ archetype of family as a group of people gathered around a patrimony and the ‘modern’ archetype of family as two married heterosexual adults with their dependent children - we will show that what the pedagogical task of the family is, traditionally is being shaped and receives its meaning from an idea of family. (We use the term ‘pedagogical’ here in the broad sense of the word, i.e. referring to the (informal) processes of childrearing. Pedagogical refers to the way adults are ‘child-tenders’, i.e. coming from the Latin tendere: to apply one’s attention, to focus on, to look after). Traditionally, then, the pedagogical is being shaped and receives its meaning from an idea of family. (2) Although (characteristics of) both archetypes still exist in our thinking, the term ‘family’ nowadays is simultaneously affected by two movements: a decentering of the term – the term gradually falls into disuse or at the very least becomes subject for discussion - and a centering of ‘alternative’ terms or languages that (implicitly) take a ‘center’ place in what family (research, life) is all about (such as intimacy, kinship, personal life). (3) As a consequence of these movements, what the pedagogical side of ‘family’ is (or should entail) remains largely unclear. Nowadays, childrearing is informed by rationales of learning that define and explain what happens (or should happen) within such practices and how a child can (or should be) raised without much regard for where childrearing is taking place. In other words, in the dominant ‘parenting’ discourse (e.g. Lee et al., 2014), the pedagogical is objectified and can be assessed without ‘family’ as defining benchmark. The ‘traditional’ idea seems to be turned around: now, ‘family’ receives its meaning and relevance as a setting where (good) ‘parenting’ (skills, competences, knowledge) can be learned. (4) We argue that ‘family’ as, so to speak, a conceptual ‘no-man’s-land’ points to a pedagogical value, namely that it preserves the aporetic nature of childrearing, i.e. a question of how to do justice to a shared existence. To recognize the indeterminacy of ‘family’ is to think and speak of ‘family’ in a way that respects the abyssal space in childrearing: the fact that childrearing is a practice about which, in the end, nothing final or decisive can be said.
Budgeon, S., & Roseneil, S. (2004). Editors’ introduction: beyond the conventional family. Current Sociology, 52 (2), 127-134. Dahlberg, G. (2003). Pedagogy as a loci of an ethics of an encounter. In M. Bloc, K. Holmlund, I. Moqvist, & T. Popkewitz (Eds.), Governing Children, Families and Education. Restructuring The Welfare State (pp. 261-286). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Edwards, R., & Gillies, V. (2012). Farewell to Family? Notes on an argument for retaining the concept. Families, Relationships and Societies, 1, 63-69. Foucault M. (1977). Discipline And Punish: The Birth Of The Prison. New York: Pantheon. Furedi, F. (2008). Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring The Experts May Be Best For Your Child. London: Continuum. Lee, E., Bristow, J., Faircloth, C., & Macvarish, J. (2014). Parenting Culture Studies. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan Mollenhauer, K. (1986). Vergeten Samen¬hang. Over Cultuur En Opvoeding. Amsterdam: Boom. Ramaekers, S., & Suissa, J. (2012). The Claims Of Parenting. Reasons, Responsibility and Society. Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.