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  • Author or Editor: Janet Boddy x
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We live in a historic period of heightened and intersecting uncertainties. This article draws on Bauman’s () metaphor of ‘liquid modernity’ to discuss the precariousness of family lives and child and family welfare provision in the context of austerity politics in contemporary England, before going on to consider the implications for research and researchers. Contexts of constant uncertainty have ethical and methodological implications for family research, particularly for studies concerned with services for children and families. When precarisation is an instrument of government, we need approaches to understanding ‘what works’ that are fit for liquid modern times: engaging with the complex contingencies of child and family lives and of the systems and services that they encounter, and actively resisting individualising and deficit-focused narratives in the study of child and family welfare. I focus my reflections on England because it is where I live and work, but the considerations I discuss have relevance for any context where the erosion of welfare provision coincides with growing inequality for children and families.

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This chapter draws on two studies conducted across European countries, based on interviews with professional stakeholders and expert reviews, to explore similarities and differences in the way support for families is positioned within wider policy frameworks, and the ways specific approaches reflect both different countries’ assumptions about the relationship between families and the state and their broader approaches to social welfare. The analysis contrasts the assumed divide between ordinary and troubled families implicit in the way services are organized in the UK with continental European countries where institutionalized rights to support for all children and/or families, and a more professionalised holistic approach to family support embedded within universal services, makes specialist help more easily accessible and ‘trouble’ less stigmatized.

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Perspectives from INDIA and the UK

Available Open Access under CC-BY licence.

How do environmental policies link to dynamic and relational family practices for children and parents? This Policy Press Short presents innovative cross-national research into how ‘environment’ is understood and negotiated within families, and how this plays out in everyday lives.

Based on an ESRC study that involved creative, qualitative work with families in India and the UK who live in different contexts, this book illuminates how environmental practices are negotiated within families, and how they relate to values, identities and society. In doing so, it contributes to understanding of the ways in which families and childhood are constructed as sites for intervention in climate change debates.

In an area that is increasingly of concern to governments, NGOs and the general public, this timely research is crucial for developing effective responses to climate change.

Open access

This introductory chapter elaborates on the concept of climate change. It considers how families and the children within them think and feel about their local environments and how these ‘small’ environmental issues fit with ‘big’ environmental concerns about climate change in one country in the Majority world (India), and one in the Minority world (the UK). There is a great deal of evidence that, while most scientists agree that anthropogenic climate change is a pressing issue and most people believe that climate change needs to be addressed, relatively few in countries that produce the most carbon emissions are prepared to make sacrifices to deal with it.

Open access

This chapter explores the situated, dynamic, and relational complexities, and of the ways in which space, place, and time intersect with meanings of environment in the everyday lives of children and families. It sets out to disrupt assumptions of Minority to Majority world learning, and homogenising notions of cross-national in/comparability, through a methodological approach designed to create an analytic conversation across diverse contexts within and between India and the UK. The chapter focuses on the relationality and materiality of everyday lives, devising a multi-method approach in order to capture the interconnectedness of family lives and practices. It uses a common world approach that seeks to avoid the unhelpful binarisations of big and small or ‘global’ and ‘local’ environments, which act as a barrier to understanding.

Open access

This chapter looks at the sort of environmental issues that families in India and the UK had to negotiate: sometimes routinely (for example, pollution and danger from road traffic) and sometimes unpredictably (for example, flooding and other extreme weather events). It addresses the complexity of the intermeshing of environmental concerns and practices by focusing on families who were so preoccupied with caring for their families and the daily grind of family maintenance that this superseded concern with climate change. Since families live in diverse material circumstances, environmental messages are likely to be received in different ways and to have varied impacts on different families and children.

Open access

This chapter explains how narratives of environmental concern that derive from particular Minority world contexts are not truly global. Popular images of an apparently depopulated pristine nature, such as the earth from space or the solitary polar bear, are quite literally distant from the lives of the majority. Yet, they are considered by many as foundational to galvanising environmentalism into a purportedly ‘global’ movement. This kind of affluent Minority world imaginary is problematic in several respects. Images of depopulated pristine nature conceal the fallacy of nature culture dualism, rendering invisible the vast differences within and between countries in human nature interdependence, and how children and families understand, value, and are put at risk by their environments.

Open access

This chapter talks about how children are often responsibilised in environmental policy and media discourses in both India and the UK. Abstract evocations of future generations materialise in many areas of climate change policy, based on the ethical argument that, as those imagined to outlive current generations of adults, children have the most to gain from activities and policies seeking to sustain the environments of which they are a part. Yet the centring of children in discourses of climate change impact and response is not without practical and ethical problems. Positioning children as ‘undercover agents of change’ for the environmental movement is as much an abrogation of responsibility for what are essentially the damaging environmental practices of adults, as is offshoring environmental responsibility to the next generation of stewards of the earth.

Open access

This chapter demonstrates how, through in-depth qualitative research with 24 families who live in differing contexts in India and the UK, environmental practices are inextricably relational, and linked with dynamic family practices, childhood, and parenthood. Holistic understandings of environmental practices, and of children and families, benefit from juxtaposing Minority and Majority world understandings, and so challenging patronising (colonial) moral discourses of environmental concern that are rooted in Minority world understandings of the affluent ethical consumer practising care at a distance. This approach helps to build the new global perspective based on dialogue between childhoods in Majority and Minority worlds that the book advocates, and so to understand “other” lives, in context.

Open access

Contemporary discussions of climate change response frequently emphasise individual moral responsibility, but little is known about how environmental messages are taken up or resisted in everyday practices. This article examines how families negotiate the moral narratives and identity positions associated with environmental responsibility. It focuses on families living in relatively affluent circumstances in England and South East India to consider the ways in which the families construct their understandings of environment and take up identities as morally responsible. Our analysis focuses on a subsample of case studies involved in the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Family Lives and the Environment study, within the NOVELLA node, using a multimethod qualitative approach with families of children aged between 12 and 14. This article focuses on interviews with 10 of the 24 families in the sample, all of whom (in both India and the UK) discussed environmental concerns within moral narratives of the responsibilities of relative privilege. Findings highlight the potential of cross-world research to help theorise the complex economic and cultural specificity of a particular morally charged framing of environmental concern, addressing the (dis)connections between ‘moral tales’ of responsible privilege and individual and collective accounts of family practices.

Open access