Parenting apps and the depoliticisation of the parent

View author details View Less
  • 1 KU Leuven, , Belgium
  • | 2 Liverpool Hope University, , UK
Full Access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

In educational research, digital technology has received considerable attention, and in early childhood studies this has largely focused, understandably, on children. Our concern here is with the figure of the parent and on a specific digital technology – apps designed for parents. While apps can be seen as a digital extension of existing information and advice that has proliferated in the turn to parenting, and exhibits many of the characteristics of the parenting culture – for example, positioning parents as in need of education, drawing predominantly from developmental psychology and neuroscience – the particular affordances of apps draw attention to a more profound shift in how we understand what it means to raise children today, particularly if we reassert the representational – political, pedagogical – dimension of the figure of the parent.

This article considers the implications of parenting apps for the position of the parent in the parent–child relationship. Key focuses in the critical sociological literature on the ‘parenting culture’ and the increasing digitisation of our daily lives are summarised to show how parenting apps can be seen as an extension of the instrumentalisation, scientisation and psychologisation identified therein. A pedagogical-philosophical register is introduced, however, informed by Stanley Cavell’s account of initiation in forms of life and Klaus Mollenhauer’s account of upbringing, that brings out the political aspect of the figure of the parent as a representative figure situated between child and world. With reference to a selection of apps aimed at the period from pregnancy to three years old, we illustrate how, while sharing similarities with the existing sources of information and advice for parents, parenting apps are distinctive due to the personalisation, visualisation and notion of community they offer. Hence, what appears as a politicisation of parents through a sociological lens is seen as a depoliticisation of parents through a pedagogical-philosophical lens.

Abstract

In educational research, digital technology has received considerable attention, and in early childhood studies this has largely focused, understandably, on children. Our concern here is with the figure of the parent and on a specific digital technology – apps designed for parents. While apps can be seen as a digital extension of existing information and advice that has proliferated in the turn to parenting, and exhibits many of the characteristics of the parenting culture – for example, positioning parents as in need of education, drawing predominantly from developmental psychology and neuroscience – the particular affordances of apps draw attention to a more profound shift in how we understand what it means to raise children today, particularly if we reassert the representational – political, pedagogical – dimension of the figure of the parent.

This article considers the implications of parenting apps for the position of the parent in the parent–child relationship. Key focuses in the critical sociological literature on the ‘parenting culture’ and the increasing digitisation of our daily lives are summarised to show how parenting apps can be seen as an extension of the instrumentalisation, scientisation and psychologisation identified therein. A pedagogical-philosophical register is introduced, however, informed by Stanley Cavell’s account of initiation in forms of life and Klaus Mollenhauer’s account of upbringing, that brings out the political aspect of the figure of the parent as a representative figure situated between child and world. With reference to a selection of apps aimed at the period from pregnancy to three years old, we illustrate how, while sharing similarities with the existing sources of information and advice for parents, parenting apps are distinctive due to the personalisation, visualisation and notion of community they offer. Hence, what appears as a politicisation of parents through a sociological lens is seen as a depoliticisation of parents through a pedagogical-philosophical lens.

Introduction

Parents are generally the first to speak to their children. This sharing of a language is more than just helping children develop their linguistic skills, however. In the relationship between parents and their children, it is a sharing of a world, or at least inviting their children into that world. In this article our interest is in the mediation of the parent–child relationship by digital technologies, and implications of this for the position of the parent in this relationship. Specifically, we discuss parenting apps, a fairly recent addition to the sources of information and advice available for parents. Our discussion is situated against the background of an educational-philosophical tradition of understanding raising children as an intergenerational relationship, in which the parent is understood as always situated ‘between child and world’; that is, between their child and some form of communal life, which they, inevitably, represent. Drawing mainly on Stanley Cavell’s (1979) concept of initiation in forms of life, we offer a pedagogical account of what is at stake in the introduction of parenting apps for our understanding of raising children today, and in particular for our understanding of the figure of the parent.

The emergence of parenting apps can be seen to be in line with both what is referred to in the critical literature as the ‘parenting culture’ (for example, Lee et al, 2014) and the more general trend of the digitisation of aspects of our daily lives. Both the parenting culture and digitisation have been subject to critique, predominantly (though not exclusively) from sociological disciplines (sociology of education, sociology of childhood, sociology of technology, for example). These critical accounts address how the parenting culture, now under conditions of digitisation, engenders certain constructions of parenthood, childhood, parenting and education, which go hand in hand with particular policy agendas and wider practices of late neoliberal governance. Characteristic focuses of critical attention are, for example: the reduction of parents to mere ‘instruments’ in function of externally defined parenting goals (which can be summarised as the critique of instrumentalisation); the particular scientific basis of parenting advice and the ways that its use in policy documents and popular literature constitute particular forms of parental subjectivation (the critiques of scientisation and (neuro)psychologisation); the understanding of parents as always in need of education (the critique of professionalisation); the increasing collection of personal data through digital devices (such as Smartschool and ClassDojo) and the forms of monitoring and governance this enables (the critique of ‘datafication’); and the intervention into family life as a tool for social policy (the critique of politicisation). We will return to these critiques in more detail in what follows.

We start our discussion with an account of raising children as a form of initiation in forms of life, drawing on Cavell. Here we elaborate on the notion that parents are always situated ‘between’ their child and some form of communal life, of which they are, inevitably, representative. This implies a notion of ‘community’ that brings out the unavoidable political dimension of what it means to be a parent. Here, we also elaborate on this particular notion of the ‘political’ in relation to our pedagogical understanding of the figure of the parent. We then turn to parenting apps specifically. We first provide a brief description of what functions they offer and why, before giving a brief account of the main lines of the critique of the parenting culture and of digitisation in the context of childhood and raising children today, as articulated predominantly within the sociological literature. We then outline how parenting apps can be understood in these critical terms. In the final section, however, we shed a different light on parenting apps through an educational-philosophical discussion of the implications of this form of digitisation of the parent–child relationship for our conceptualisation of the parent. By looking in more detail at a selection of parenting apps we illustrate what distinguishes them from more familiar sources of parenting advice (books, TV programmes and so on). Against the background of the aforementioned political dimension of what it means to be a parent, we argue that parenting apps prompt a rethinking of the figure of the parent as subject to a depoliticisation.

Between child and world: the parent as a pedagogical figure

The understanding of the parent–child relationship that informs our analysis derives from an educational-philosophical tradition in which this relationship is conceptualised as an intergenerational relationship. Philosophers most commonly associated with this conceptualisation, from both Anglo-Saxon and Continental philosophical traditions, include Stanley Cavell (1979), Hannah Arendt (2006 [1961]), Bernard Stiegler (2010), Klaus Mollenhauer (2014 [1983]) and R.S. Peters (2015 [1959]). While there are (important) differences in their positions, these thinkers all conceive issues of raising and educating children as culturally situated. In his introduction to his translation of Mollenhauer’s Forgottten Connections, Norm Friesen succinctly puts this as follows:

‘Upbringing’, Mollenhauer says, is ‘first and foremost a matter of passing on a valued heritage, of conveying to children what is important to us’ as adults and as a culture. Mollenhauer refers to ‘cultural heritage’ as that which ‘adults bring to children’ …. In this context … it is important to recall that cultural heritage does not refer to ethnic traditions – songs and recipes dusted off for the holidays. Instead, culture and heritage signify the practices, experiences, and values shared by those participating in a society in general – whether at home, at work, in leisure or at school. (Friesen, 2014: xvi–xlx)

To speak of upbringing (rather than the ‘parent–child relationship’) and to focus on ‘practices, experiences and values’ acknowledges the inescapability of upbringing: as members of a society, we cannot not engage in upbringing (p. xx); it is inseparable from language, work and culture. We see this in the everyday statements and judgements that parents – or the older generation more generally – make with regard to their children and the world they are confronted with: ‘Don’t do that, it’s dangerous’; ‘Doing the dishes is a (wo)man’s job’; ‘God exists’; ‘Don’t spend too much time playing videogames’; ‘You can’t watch Homeland yet, you’re too young’; ‘You’re only allowed to have a mobile phone once you go to secondary school’; ‘Doing your homework on time is important’, and so on.

Stanley Cavell uses the broad concept of initiation to capture the way in which parents, in introducing their children to language, also introduce them to a culture, thereby constituting a world. In the context of a discussion of Wittgenstein’s vision of language, and of what it means to lead a life with language and to lead others (children) into such a life, Cavell writes: ‘[w]e initiate them [children], into the relevant forms of life held in language and gathered around the objects and persons of our world’ (Cavell, 1979: 178). He also points to the educational/parental responsibility implied in such initiation. If we want our children to lead a life with language, ‘we must make ourselves exemplary’, he says, ‘and take responsibility for that assumption of authority’ (Cavell, 1979: 178). ‘Exemplary’ here does not mean being the best of examples (as in, for instance, ‘showing exemplary behaviour’), but refers to grown-ups offering or exhibiting themselves as examples of the forms of life they partake in. It thus refers to a particular feature of being a grown-up; our representativeness vis-à-vis the forms of life we initiate children into.

The concepts of ‘initiation’ and ‘forms of life’ have a certain well-considered vagueness to them. Vague, because the limits of what they refer to are not clear: that is, it is impossible to say definitively which practices fall under ‘initiation’, or what it is that could be categorised as a ‘form of life’. But well considered because, we maintain, Cavell captures the sense that language and culture – that which we initiate children into – are not ‘bounded’ entities that can be neatly identified, delimited and thus controlled. What we say and do, and thus what we make ourselves exemplary of, cannot be made entirely transparent, let alone exhaustively listed. The list of things we do and say is endless. And the realisation of the detail and depth of our responsibility for doing this (and not that) and for saying this (and not that) can be overwhelming, even frightening. Rendering our relationship with our children as initiation into forms of life, then, starts to bring out the existential and moral complexity of what it means to raise children.1

The parent is not merely a conduit for learning words, basic skills and so on, therefore. In initiating a child into the particular practices of a form of life and the (shared) way in which we articulate it, parents are initiating the child into communal life. They take responsibility for passing ‘it’ on and are – in their very mundane sayings and doings – unavoidably representative of it. The understanding of upbringing as initiation, therefore, implies a conception of community. We elaborate on this further here to explicate the conception of the position of the parent on which our later analysis is based.

First, what we say to our children is never solely what we – alone – say; it is never (solipsistically) private. It is always already tied to communal uses of words. The philosophical (Wittgensteinian) point here is that it is always the case that in my saying of words (my personal use of them) I am using words (more or less) in line with others’ usage of words (public); that is, in agreement with publicly shared criteria for identifying something as ‘x’. If someone says, for example, ‘God exists’, and acts accordingly, we understand what they mean (even if we don’t agree) due to our shared agreements about what those words mean. The words we use and how we use them make sense in the context of a particular form of life; we take up words already shared as part of that. Importantly, this means that what I say (privately, personally) is always in principle open to contestation, refutation, agreement, and so on, by others, including my children (public). As a pedagogical figure situated between child and world, between ‘beginner’ and ‘forms of life’, it is the parent’s very in-betweenness – their exemplarity and responsibility for the assumption of authority – that lends the parent an inevitable political feature. Political, not in the sense of an adherence to a particular political position or advocating for a particular political issue, but because of the parent’s representativeness (their exemplarity and responsibility), encapsulated in the observation that parents are generally the first to speak to their children.

Second – and related to the ‘vagueness’ of the concept of form of life – there is no substantial concept of community implied here. Cavell’s appreciation of the cultural embeddedness of raising children, and the constitution of this in language and in our daily practices, draws out the publicness of what we share with our fellow human beings about ourselves, others and the world. But this doesn’t entail that we can determine precisely what it is we share with others or what the limits are of our community. It is impossible, beforehand or in retrospect, to define what we agree on. This isn’t a problem to be overcome but a feature of community, of our living together. Speaking for a community, that is, being exemplary of its ‘practices, experiences and values’ and taking responsibility for such exemplarity, doesn’t presuppose communal cohesion or knowing exactly where it begins and ends. There is no way to have a clear overview of what exactly it is we seem to be exemplary of and thus responsible for. If we say ‘God exists’, does that also entail that some other deity doesn’t? Or that people who say otherwise are ‘wrong’? Or should be converted? Or excluded? Or just left to their own devices? We do not – cannot – be cognisant of or determine all of these in advance, or how what we say will be taken up, including by our children. What we do and say is always open to (partial) agreement, (partial) dissent, contestation, disruption and so on. In this sense, ‘the community’ we participate in is continuously ‘in the making’, both by grown-ups and the children they initiate into it, on a daily basis, in the very sayings and doings of those giving expression to it (Cavell, 1990).

Given this understanding of the parent as a pedagogical figure (with its inevitable political dimension), what, then, are the implications of the introduction of digital technologies – specifically parenting apps – for the parent’s position as articulated here? Existing forms of information and advice for parents, as we discuss below, already position the parent in a particular way and mediate the parent–child relationship, and the relationships between parent, child and world. In what follows we explore the extent to which parenting apps can be seen to be an extension of existing discourses and practices, but also what distinguishes the digital form from their ‘analogue’ counterparts, and in what sense this affects how we conceive of the relationship between parent and community.2 We first give a brief outline of what parenting apps offer, before situating them within the existing critiques of the ‘parenting culture’.

Parenting apps: what can they do for me?

Parenting apps exist for all ages and stages of raising children and for different styles of doing so, from pregnancy to the teenage years (as is also the case for non-digital sources of parenting information and advice). The apps we will discuss in more detail below are aimed at the developmental stages between zero and three years. We focus on this age range specifically because it is during this time that a particular idea of what it means to be a parent is introduced and sets the tone of what raising children entails. How the parent is addressed during this early period, then, seems particularly pertinent in analysing how what it means to be a parent today is presented.

One of the key claims made by the apps and the knowledge they contain is of the far-reaching consequences of what parents do during this phase of their child’s life. The ‘first 1,000 days’ is widely cited in the parenting literature as ‘the most significant in a child’s development’,3 ‘a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established’,4 and this is echoed in the apps. So, while a broader overview of the apps available for parents would be a worthwhile exercise, the sample we refer to in this analysis is, we argue, indicative of the discourse of parenting and illustrative of the way in which apps function, whichever phase of child-rearing one is involved with. The disposition established during that early period is not likely to be abandoned entirely once the child reaches three, but will be part of how a parent understands him or herself and how to best interact with their child.

In general, these apps offer advice, for example, on feeding, exercise and nutrition during and after pregnancy, and on dealing with familiar parenting challenges. They provide functions; for example, a feed timer, tasks for your baby to complete, stimulating activities to assist with the child’s development. The advice and activities are generated by information provided by the user: minimally, the child’s date of birth or the month of pregnancy, and the user’s selected interests. In some apps, users can add photos, access forum discussions and seek expert advice. The apps also allow the user to record information; for example, kicks (during pregnancy), feeds, baths, temperature, weight (mum and baby), height, nappy changes, sleep, steps taken, favourite toys and so on, to manage more than one child, and to share information with a partner, family members and other parents. The account below refers to Baby Manager, Vroom, Parenting Challenge, Parentune, Wachanga and Wonder Weeks.5

Critiques of the ‘parenting culture’, digitisation and parenting apps

To an important extent parenting apps can be seen to be in line with both the ‘parenting culture’ as it is critically understood (for example, Lee et al, 2014) and the more general trend of the digitisation of aspects of our daily lives. The parenting culture and digitisation have both been subject to critique, predominantly through a sociological lens, and here we summarise the main lines of critique articulated in this scholarship.6 We indicate how parenting apps can be understood as a continuation, and perhaps an intensification, of the discourses and issues identified.

Parenting culture and digitisation: sociological critique

Over the last few decades, at least in Western Europe and the US, the range and availability of manuals, classes, TV series (for example, Supernanny) and websites (for example, www.mumsnet.com), aimed at parents has proliferated, often echoing wider policy initiatives focused on families and parents. The term ‘parenting’ itself is relatively new (see Smith, 2010), but such is the rapidity with which it has come to dominate how we talk about raising children, the trend has been theorised as a ‘turn to parenting’ (Furedi, 2001; Daly, 2013; Lee et al, 2014; Knijn and Hopman, 2015). This turn has given rise to a growing body of critical literature, mainly driven by the important work of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent (see Lee et al, 2014).

Policies and interventions in this area have broadly been analysed in terms of the way parents are assumed to be in need of education, and are subject to an instrumentalised notion of raising children (for example, Furedi, 2001; Lee et al, 2014). The assumption that parents lack the knowledge and skills they need is expressed in the parenting discourse in ways that treat being a parent as a job. Thus, there is a sense that being parents has been professionalised (Klett-Davis, 2010). The assumption is that a good parent is one who accesses expertise, identifies learning needs and opportunities, gauges the success of them and adapts accordingly.

In the instrumentalisation characteristic of the parenting culture, Daly argues that ‘the parent becomes equivalent to a “parenter” – someone who deploys learned skills centring on self and other forms of control’ (Daly, 2013: 227–8). The parent as ‘parenter’ is placed outside the existential messiness of raising children to take a detached, expert view of the situation. Critical analyses of the parenting culture argue that parents are required to take an external view of their own situation, to try to get a clear ‘overview’ of it, and then to decide on the best response: they are no longer expected to take their own point of view as parents, but the point of view of experts, depriving parents of their own sense of agency (see, for example, Bouverne-De Bie et al, 2006; Bristow, 2009; Ramaekers and Suissa, 2012).

The source of such expertise derives predominantly from developmental psychology, positive psychology and neuroscience. Hence, the parenting culture has been characterised in terms of the ‘psychologisation’ and ‘neuropsychologisation’ of our everyday lives (for example, De Vos, 2012; 2016). These concepts refer to processes by which psychological discourses have altered the discursive positions of the subject since late modernity, how we think and speak about ourselves and others, and thus how we relate to others, including our children. In this regard, the governance of parents, specifically on the basis of neuropsychological research, has been critically analysed by Jan MacVarish (2016) as ‘neuroparenting’. Neuroscience is adopted into the parenting discourse as a source of advice to tell parents what they need to do in order to ensure the optimal wiring of their children’s brains (see also Nadesan, 2002; Gillies et al, 2016). The adoption of neuropsychology into the parenting discourse entails the assertion that if parents use the correct parenting techniques, numerous problems can be prevented and their children will be set on a pathway to a happy, successful future.

Critical attention has also focused on the way families and parents are addressed and positioned by particular policy interventions. Edwards et al (2017) for example, discuss how particular cultural groups of parents are constructed and framed as ‘problems’ and ‘targets’ for intervention (see also Daly, 2013; Daly and Brady, 2015). Val Gillies identifies, what she refers to as a ‘political association between parenting and social ills’ (Gillies, 2005: 71), by which ‘wider issues of poverty and injustice are sidelined through the construction of a culturally distinct minority [of parents] as the major focus of concern’ (Gillies, 2005: 85). Hence, parenting and family life are seen to have become a matter of governmental concern and surveillance (Gillies, 2012: 13). Critical analyses such as these further show how parents are subject to the wider discourses of neoliberalism, addressed primarily in their capacity as responsible, learning subjects or ‘the responsibilised parent’, one who sees the need for learning in order to be able to raise her children correctly (that is, according to the latest scientific findings) (see for example, Dahlstedt and Fejes, 2014).

The critical literature on the parenting culture, then, broadly identifies a politicisation of parenting: parenting is seen as a tool of social policy; or, drawing on governmentality studies and critical discourse analyses, parenting is understood as a set of practices discursively mediated by the central features of neoliberalism, understood to require an entrepreneurial self-understanding that primarily recasts parents as learning subjects (Furedi and Bristow, 2008; Bristow, 2009; Faircloth et al, 2013; Lee et al, 2014; MacVarish, 2016; see also Richter and Andresen, 2012).

In a similar vein, the ways in which digital technologies come to play a role in relation to parents, children and education (broadly understood) have recently been critically addressed in the field of the sociology of technology. In their critical review of current literature on personalised digital technology and how it is reshaping childhood, Deborah Lupton and Ben Williamson (2017) summarise how children’s lives and activities are being monitored and measured from before birth, and throughout their lives, to the extent that they describe children today as ‘datafied’. They characterise the gathering of individuals’ data as ‘dataveillance’:

Dataveillance now frequently operates with the use of digital technologies and takes place at varying degrees of people’s knowledge and consent. Individuals may voluntarily choose to engage in self-surveillance, for example, by using self-tracking devices and software […] Another form of watching, that of ‘intimate surveillance’, describes the monitoring of other people that takes place as part of close personal relationships (such as those between family members and couples). (Lupton and Williamson, 2017: 782)

Michele Willson (2018) focuses on the implications of the ‘ideal child’ that seems to be sought in our increasing quantification and algorithmicisation of children’s lives. Following Williamson (2014), Guy Roberts-Holmes and Alice Bradbury (2016: 610) have shown how, through data‐based accountability in early years educational contexts, young children are reconfigured as ‘miniature centres of calculation’. Critiques of digitisation, then, further illustrate the politicisation of parents and the family through data-based measurement and governance.

Parenting apps and the politicisation of parents

Parenting apps can be seen as a continuation of such an instrumentalised, scienticised, skills-based understanding of parenting that draws on forms of psychology and neuroscience to provide information, advice and activities to parents and children. They can also be seen to further constitute a particular mode of governance, produced through individualisation, responsibilisation and datafication. Hence, they too can be subject to the critique of politicisation. Specifically, apps share (at least) two characteristic features with existing sources of parenting information and advice that testify to this; namely, the explicit reference to and emphasis on reliability and verification (scientisation) and learning optimisation (professionalisation).7

For example, Parentune describes the app’s content as ‘reliable’, ‘verified’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘tried and tested’, ‘validated’ and ‘vetted’. Parenting Challenge, an app that provides a daily quiz for parents, does so to ‘test your knowledge and preconceptions and see if they’re correct’, so you can ‘be sure that you have the right knowledge to raise your kids. If you answer incorrectly, you will learn the facts about child development that will give you ideas about the best way for raising children.’ Vroom, the app that helps you learn ‘how to be a brain builder’, offers specific information about where the knowledge comes from: ‘Vroom was developed by a group of dedicated scientists, community leaders, and trusted brands, with input from community organizations and families like yours;’ ‘Leaders in neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics, parenting, and early childhood development are our trusted collaborators.’ 

The focus on learning optimisation – of both parent and child – is evident in many apps, which aim to support the enhancement of the child’s development by providing knowledge, tasks and advice to the parent in order that they can enhance their own skills. Parenting Challenge states: ‘Spend one minute a day on this app and improve your parenting skills.’ Parenting in this example is a challenge to be overcome, a problem to be mastered – ‘[T]est your ability to crack everyday parenting conflicts while trying to give you a comprehensive understanding of child behaviour’ – and a competitive element is incorporated – ‘Try answering common parenting questions, find your score and challenge other parents.’ The acquisition of knowledge and skills by the parent is linked to the improved ability to achieve such development in the child. Vroom’s brain-based approach means that ‘By knowing what is going on inside the head of your baby, you can help him to make the leap more easily and stimulate his development.’

Parenting apps, then, can be said to reinforce the instrumental approach to the parent–child relationship, identified as internal to the scientised parenting culture (McIlvenny, 2008; Ramaekers and Suissa, 2012; Mackler, 2017). Again, what it means to raise children is determined from outside, that is, by experts, from within a scientific discourse. Parents are thus positioned as – and rendered responsible as – instruments in the realisation of their children’s optimal development. Parents’ pivotal role is to ensure that they acquire the right techniques to enable them to perform their tasks as effectively as possible – tasks that are predominantly framed in behavioural and causal terms, in one-to-one ‘parent–child’ interactions. The aim of such interaction is the optimal learning and development of the child, which in turn relies on the parent learning, taking on and applying the knowledge and ideas presented in the app. As with other sources of parenting advice and support, optimal learning and development are the key focus, and the application of scientific findings from positive psychology and neuroscience are key to achieving it.

In their discursive similarity with existing forms of parenting information and advice, apps can be seen to intensify the politicisation of parenting, with apps able to gather ever more detailed data on individuals, groups and sub-categories according to any number of identity markers (for example, gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity, location), and provide information to specifically targeted groups. One example of this can be found in the EasyPeasy app, which sends activities and tips to parents to help improve toddlers’ language and communication skills. The app is designed to encourage and enable parents to provide a ‘vibrant home learning environment’ as an intervention intended to help to close the attainment gap between the richest and poorest children and thus explicitly links improved parental engagement to social mobility.8

Further analysis and critique of the governmentalisation of the parent–child relationship is necessary and important. Pursuing a pedagogical register and the particular notion of the political that this entails, however, enables us to draw out a further facet of what is at stake in the digitisation of that relationship.

From politicisation to depoliticisation

While the apps do conform in many ways to the features identified in existing critiques of the parenting culture, they have affordances that analogue forms do not. This distinctiveness enables us to articulate a different perspective from that found in the critical sociological scholarship. While reliability and verification and learning optimisation can be seen to reflect the critiques of scientisation, professionalisation and psychologisation, we emphasise here three further aspects – personalisation, visualisation and community – that, we argue, are distinctive to apps, and that recast the implications of the first two. We propose a different reading than we find in the existing, sociological, interpretation of parenting as politicised. Against the background of the understanding of the political aspect of the figure of the parent, as articulated above, we suggest that the parent, as traditionally a representational, pedagogical figure, risks depoliticisation.

Personalisation

By adding personal information (for example, date of birth) and media (for example, photos), users receive personalised information and activities. In this sense, parenting apps function in a similar way to other social media. With Baby Manager for example, you can ‘Follow your little one together with unlimited people or devices’ and ‘Share charts with your friends on Facebook, email and more.’ Parentune offers ‘well-timed expert parenting advice on your queries related to health and wellness … education and more related areas for your child,’ ‘personalized as per their child’s age and related topics of interest’. Wonder Weeks, an app to accompany a book of the same name, describes itself as ‘a personalised daily calendar of your baby’s development that will keep you informed about the (mental) leaps and bounds and the fussy phases of your baby – any time of day or night’. The information and advice is framed, for example by Wachanga, as ‘your personal guide for your kid’s up-bringing’. The language further reinforces that what is offered is specific to you: Wonder Weeks’ calendar shows when ‘your baby makes a leap in his mental development’; ‘What your baby can understand & learn after this mental leap’; ‘What your baby can do after this leap’ (italics ours).

This personalisation in (parenting) apps is realised both through static data (user information entered when subscribing) and dynamic data (such as online behaviour and behavioural data records) interacting with algorithms. From the moment of conception onwards, users can enter a variety of details: quantitative data on their physical (for example, blood pressure, number of kicks felt) and temporal (for example, due date, first steps) conditions and experiences; qualitative data on, for example, emotions; or visual media (for example, ultrasound scans, photos). They (and their child) can complete age-related tasks or respond to quizzes. This generates a data-based relationship between user and app that constitutes an active feedback loop. The directness of the input/feedback loop generated in the interplay between data and algorithms, and the continuousness of that bi-directional process, place the user in a different relationship to the digital app compared with its analogue counterparts. The introduction of apps, then, arguably marks a shift from generalised advice offered by books and websites, or from personal advice in a face-to-face meeting with an expert, to the possibility of personalised content, based on the individual parent’s and child’s inputted data. Each activity enables the further tailoring of information and resources for the parent, thus constituting this ongoing feedback loop. An app relies on the provision of data not only to generate the personalised content for the user (as an outcome of entering data), but also, and crucially, because an app only works through the personalisation enabled in its design.

While advice from books and web forums is also perhaps ‘personalisable’ (that is, parents will interpret generalised advice to apply to their own personal context), as is advice received in a meeting with an expert (the professional will ask for specificities of the home context, for example), this personalisation comes after reading the book or meeting with a professional. In an app, however, parents are not shown a statistically average or broadly representative parent or child, which they then apply to their own context. In an app they are, effectively, presented with information and advice processed and personalised for them as a parent. Users see a depiction of what the child is or has done, or what the parent should know or do.

Personalisation in digital apps operates through a combination of specific algorithms: ‘coded instructions … deployed to make decisions, to sort and make meaningfully visible the vast amount of data’ (Bucher, 2018: 2–3). Bucher writes of Netflix and Facebook’s algorithms: ‘User input and the patterns emerging from it are turned into a means of production. What we see is no longer what we get. What we get is what we did and that is what we see … it is largely a matter of users getting back their processed data’ (Bucher, 2018: 2). The technology itself, then, is not only a conduit for information but also selects that information in a particular way based on individual data. What is made visible to parents is, essentially, their performance (their success in attaining the development of their children) and a datafied version of their children.

Visualisation

Parenting apps provide not only personalised information and advice, but also visual illustrations of this: timelines of events and images, for example. Baby Manager enables you to ‘Visualize trends and routines of your baby with the timeline.’ It provides ‘Friendly charts [to] help you understand your child and breastfeeding better, gaining insights into their trends.’ Wonder Weeks provides ‘a personalized daily calendar of your baby’s development that will keep you informed about the (mental) leaps and bounds and the fussy phases of your baby – any time of day or night.’

Visualisation is a central facet of this personalised feedback loop between user and app. In-app graphics and timelines differ significantly from those offered in books and on forums. Whereas the latter are static, in need of interpretation and application to the parent’s specific context, in-app graphics and timelines are derived from the data provided by the user and thus only exist because of the feedback loop co-constituted by parents. The distinctiveness of apps, then, lies not only in what information is visualised – the child’s milestones, their growth, photos – but also how the information is presented – curated into timelines, graphs, charts and calendars. Again, what parents see is not a representation to be applied (or not), but a version of themselves.

Further, and related to this, Williamson writes of learning analytics platforms in the school context:

The visualization of data is no neutral accomplishment but amplifies the rhetorical or persuasive function of data, allowing it to be employed to create arguments and generate explanations about the world and to produce conviction in others that such representations, explanations and arguments depict the world as it really appears (Gitelman and Jackson 2013). (Williamson, 2016:131)

Lupton notes such a trend in her research on health monitoring apps: ‘The visual image or data they generate are often privileged as more “objective” than the signs offered by the “real”, fleshly body and patients’ own accounts of their bodies …’ (Lupton, 2013: 398). The data visualisations in the apps, as feedback on one’s own activities, might – in conjunction with the language of reliability and verification – appear a more objective form of self-knowledge than one’s own decisions about how to best to interact or play with or feed one’s child. That the information we receive from apps is personalised – that is, generated precisely from the user’s inputted data - may lend it greater force, or legitimacy, than advice provided by a book, TV show, or health visitor’s leaflet, for example, or than one’s own instinctive response.

Community

As indicated, many parenting apps offer similar functions to social media apps, and the function of ‘sharing’ information is expressed in terms of belonging to a community of users. As Parentune states, you can ‘connect with like-minded parents’; it describes itself as ‘a rapidly growing pro-parent community’. Users can: ‘Connect with parents going through the same stages of parenting’ and ‘be in sync with your fellow parents’. Vroom states: ‘Together we can build an early learning nation.’ In view of the need to ‘improve your parenting skills’ (Parenting Challenge) and ‘Improve your parental level!’ (Wachanga), the apps enable users to ‘interact with experts’. The community element of the apps appeals to a concern with learning, as indicated above, and identifies parents as a group with specific needs and interests.

Parenting apps constitute a particular kind of community, however; one in which the user makes herself visible by way of a personalised, curated version of herself as ‘parent’. The user is enclosed within a permanent feedback loop, which, in the apps’ terms, is a benefit of being part of their community: the information you need, for your child, tailored to your interests. Further, this is a community in which a parent chooses to participate because of the shared beliefs, opinions and aspirations of fellow community members – their ‘like-minded’-ness – and the advice and information given.

In questioning the notion of community presented by parenting apps, we draw on the notion of community articulated at the outset of this article. The distinction we are making is not between online and offline sources of parenting advice. Online forums provide a site in which parents, as people, can share information and ideas, and contest what is said, and hence can be seen as communities in which humans are making decisions, offering advice or asking questions, gauging the degree to which s/he is in agreement with others (or not), deciding which aspects of the advice to take (or not).9 The distinction we are making is between sources of parenting advice that leave open these possibilities for (dis)agreement and contestation of values and actions, and those that redefine the parameters of such possibilities. The way in which the idea of community is presented via apps – alongside the language of reliability, verification and learning optimisation – suggests the possibility of removing disagreement, uncertainty, ambiguity and internal conflict. While the knowledge base on which parenting apps draw may be broadly the same as analogue sources of advice – developmental psychology, neuroscience – the affordances of digital apps constitute a different relationship between the parent and that knowledge. Put more sharply: having signed up to the app, the primary reference point for one’s sayings and doings becomes the in-app science and what it makes available, enabled by the mechanisms of personalisation and visualisation, not primarily, or necessarily, the community of which we make ourselves representative on a daily basis. The distinctive nature of apps refers, then, not only to the narrow source of expertise provided in a non-contestable space but also the action of algorithmic agency on the knowledge and advice we receive and how we receive it. The interaction when using an app is with a pre-existing body of knowledge, made available by the input of one’s own data. Apps therefore constitute a form of community that operates differently than the analogue (including online fora) forms of advice that are situated within and against existing communities.

App communities and the depoliticisation of the parent

There are, we argue, implications here for how we conceptualise the parent as a pedagogical – and inevitably political - figure. The community appealed to in and generated by the app may not be disconnected from real life, but it is significantly different from the existential account articulated with reference to Cavell and Mollenhauer earlier. We have indicated above how digital technologies such as parenting apps can be understood through a sociological lens, in terms of instrumentalisation, responsibilisation and datafication, and as a politicisation of parenting. From the pedagogical perspective in which we situate our analysis, the problem that shows itself is not one of politicisation but of depoliticisation.10

The positioning of the parent in the digitisation of parenting overlooks – or seeks to overcome - the very real experience of the child’s disruption of our sense of how things should be. By bracketing out community – as always in the making, through contestation, disruption, refinding agreement in and against a common world – such disruption becomes an individual learning issue, for which apps offer a solution. The reference point is a fixed body of knowledge in view of a learning outcome. In the way parents are predominantly addressed today they are not asked (required) to relate to that historically embedded community to which they inevitably belong as human beings, and this is intensified in the closed feedback loop of parenting apps. The disruption by the next generation to our accepted ways of doings things, of articulating the world, is instead translated into a problem to be solved, an issue to be diagnosed, and thus a learning opportunity and a need for further parenting expertise. In the use of apps, what children (and parents) do in real life, flesh and blood situations, becomes data. That which cannot be recorded, measured, datafied, is literally left out of the picture. So, in terms of the possibility – the inevitability – of disruption, we suggest, we are witnessing a shift that qualitatively alters the nature of disruption (or, perhaps, neutralises it); we are witnessing a shift from a political level (that is, the level of which we speak when seeing the parent as a figure of pedagogical representation) to the level of digital information that can be ‘dealt with’, calculated, measured, manipulated; in which the messy (physical, flesh and blood) interactions with one another (real-life confrontations) are deemed problematic – rather than political, pedagogical – and neatened into algorithmicised, psychologised translations of our actions and interactions.

This raises further questions about how to conceptualise parental responsibility, and how specifically to understand where it is to be ‘located’. To whom or what is it assigned, when we enter an app-based ‘pro-parenting community’? The notion of the political used here invokes our embeddedness within communities of flesh and blood others and our inescapable obligations to them, and, as parents, the weight that our everyday sayings and doings have in the initiation of children into language and culture. Responsibility in this sense always refers back to something shared, or public, or communal (see above; see also Ramaekers and Suissa, 2012). But what (the nature of) this publicness is in the app-generated community is not evidently clear. In an app, the like-mindedness and the recording of our activities within particular proscribed scientific language delimits the words we use and the possibility of being confronted by other articulations. It thereby also seems to affect our understanding of our responsibility for exemplarity and representativeness.

Conclusion: parents, personalisation and the paradox of visualisation

In their particular affordances, particularly against the background of the representational – political, pedagogical – dimension of the figure of the parent, parenting apps draw our attention to a profound shift in how we understand what it means to raise children. The rendering of upbringing as ‘parenting’ itself already entails that parents’ political role is oriented towards something other than raising their children (for example, the economy; optimal future learning outcomes), seen through a sociological lens as politicisation. This in itself hardly leaves space to discuss, to contest, what it means to raise children, what the ends of childrearing are.11 In this article, rather than further developing a governmental account of how digitisation further constitutes a datafied parent–child relationship, we have sought to articulate this relationship in terms of its pedagogical specificity, which in turn recasts our understanding of how it relates to the political. Through an educational-philosophical lens we show how the parenting account of raising children effects a depoliticisation of the figure of the parent and what the distinctiveness is of parenting apps in today’s parenting culture: they actively reveal what is at stake in the parent–child relationship – that is, the representational role of parents, and their possibility to dissent and be contested by others in ways that affect a parent in her very existence as a human being.

In a parenting app, possibilities for dissent are limited, if present at all. It may seem obvious to say that this is because, in the app, there is, largely, no one to talk to and so to disagree with. The point arguably also applies to analogue technologies: parents cannot compete with experts on their own terms. In apps, however, the knowledge provided is knowledge in which the parent is already involved (via feedback loops) and has, in this sense, tacitly given her approval by subscription to the app. Subscription (that is, sign up/installation) is our consent to online community. The data-based community of parents enables comparison in view of optimisation, not contestation in view of renewal.

Hence we refer to the depoliticisation of the figure of the parent. If, in this context, we conceive of raising children as (just) a matter of proper (neuro)developmental stimulation, of producing the correct effects, then the responsibility of the older generation to pass on, to stand for, a past (‘tradition’) and its inherited (and, always in principle, contestable) truths, values and norms seems no longer to be needed. Nor is there a need for educators (parents, teachers) to be what Bernard Stiegler calls ‘living ancestors’ who time and again re-embody ‘experience accumulated across many generations’ (Stiegler, 2010: 7) and invite their children to partake ‘in the shared experience of exploring a common world’ (Peters, 2015 [1959]: 53). Rather, without reference to or debate on cultural, public norms and values, apps enable parents to navigate a permanently shifting distance between ‘who they and their children are now’ (based on the data entered) and ‘who they and their children can become’ (through the visualisation of the next milestone to be achieved, the next strategy to implement) (compare Simons, 2015). What makes a parent the person she is, is bracketed out of the picture; what makes these suggested activities valuable is not in question.

In drawing attention to depoliticisation as one feature of the constitution of the figure of the parent, we suggest, tentatively, that it effects a displacement of the parent as a pedagogical figure. The emphasis on personalisation in the parenting apps discussed is not, it seems, a reference to persons as persons. The affordances of personalisation go hand in hand, rather, with a de-personalising effect: parents here are, as indicated, ‘like-minded’. Making the parent visible in this way is, paradoxically, constitutive of her disappearance as a specifically pedagogical figure.

Funding

Naomi Hodgson’s work was supported by the British Academy under grant number SG162108.

Acknowledgements

An earlier and abbreviated version of this article was first presented at the 2017 conference of the Philosophy of Education Society (PES) (Chicago) and later at the symposium Parenting Culture, Childhood, and Adult-child Relations in the Contemporary Age (UCL, Institute of Advanced Studies, May 2018). See https://educationjournal.web.illinois.edu/ojs/index.php/pes/article/view/205.

Notes

1

We cannot elaborate on this tradition more fully here and refer to Mollenhauer and Cavell to introduce the register of upbringing in which our analysis is situated. For a more detailed elaboration see Hodgson and Ramaekers (2019), especially chapter 1.

2

We distinguish between analogue and digital technologies, to refer to books, TV shows, web forums on the one hand, and mobile digital applications, on the other. While web forums might be considered digital technologies, we argue that apps function in a particular way, based on web 2.0 and semantic capabilities, with distinctive implications for the constitution of the parent–child relationship. In this article, then, web forums are classed as analogue.

3

www.nct.org.uk/about-us/first-1000-days (accessed 11th January 2019).

5

Baby Manager: https://goo.gl/4kVbt2; Vroom: www.vroom.org/; Parenting Challenge: https://goo.gl/7c6rzU; Parentune: https://goo.gl/4yVCzM; Wachanga: https://goo.gl/VbgzTH; Wonder Weeks: https://goo.gl/x96u11 (accessed 11th January 2019).

6

The critical literature on this is now extensive. A representative survey, however, falls beyond the scope of this article. We limit ourselves to recognising only some of the critical work on the most salient trends in this parenting culture.

7

Links to the apps referred to here can be found in footnote 5.

9

That contestation is very tangible will be clear to anyone who has visited parents’ (and other online) forums and, in a different way, those media that specifically seek to skewer the truth of the calm parent, managing daily life and her children’s lives with imaginative play, constant stimulation and optimal nutrition (blogs such as Hurrah for Gin and Slummy Mummy, for example).

10

See also Ramaekers and Suissa (2012) for a preliminary account of this in relation to the scientisation of the parent–child relationship.

11

Resistance to the parenting culture does sometimes come in the form of a negation of its concerns, for example, the concern that our children are too protected, that parents are too risk-averse, and that in turn has implications for their future mental health, as recently argued by Jonathan Haidt and Pamela Paresky (see, for example, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/10/by-mollycoddling-our-children-were-fuelling-mental-illness-in-teenagers). This account of raising children, however, follows the same logic as the scientised parenting advice: do this, this is the risk/outcome, thereby drawing causal relations between complex, broad-scale sociopolitical phenomena.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  • Arendt, H. (2006 [1961]) Between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought, London: Penguin.

  • Bouverne-De Bie, M., Roose, R., Verschelden, G., Vanthyne, T. and Vandenbroeck, M. (2006) Van opvoedingsbelofte als maatschappelijke eis naar een maatschappelijk engagement in de opvoeding, In HIG (ed), Van huwelijkscontract naar opvoedingsbelofte, Schaarbeek: Hoger Instituut voor Gezinswetenschappen, pp. 6066.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bristow, J. (2009) Standing up to supernanny, Exeter: Societas Imprint Academic.

  • Bucher, T. (2018) If … then: Algorithmic power and politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Cavell, S. (1979) The claim of reason: Wittgenstein, skepticism, morality, and tragedy, New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Cavell, S. (1990) Conditions handsome and unhandsome: The constitution of Emersonian perfectionism, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dahlstedt, M. and Fejes, A. (2014) Family makeover: coaching, confession and parental responsibility, Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 22(2): 16988. doi: 10.1080/14681366.2013.812136

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daly, M. (2013) Parenting support: another gender-related policy illusion in Europe?, Women’s Studies International Forum, 41: 2238.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daly, M. and Brady, R. (2015) Parenting support in England: the bedding down of a new policy, Social Policy and Society, 14: 63344. doi: 10.1017/S1474746415000214

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Vos, J. (2012) Psychologisation in times of globalisation, Hove: Routledge.

  • De Vos, J. (2016) The metamorphoses of the brain: Neurologisation and its discontents, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. (2017). Challenging the politics of early intervention: Who’s ‘saving’ children and why, Bristol: Policy Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Faircloth, C., Hoffman, D. and Layne, L. (2013). Parenting in global perspective: Negotiating ideologies of kinship, self and politics, London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Friesen, N. (2014) Translator’s introduction. Culture and upbringing in theory and practice. In K. Mollenhauer, Forgotten connections: On culture and upbringing (trans. N. Friesen), Abingdon: Routledge, pp. xvixlx. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Furedi, F. (2001) Paranoid parenting: Why ignoring the experts may be best for your child, London: Continuum Press.

  • Furedi, F. and Bristow, J. (2008) Licensed to hug, Civitas.

  • Gillies, V. (2005) Meeting parents’ needs? Discourses of “support” and “inclusion” in family policy, Critical Social Policy, 25: 7090. doi: 10.1177/0261018305048968

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gillies, V. (2012) Family policy and the politics of parenting: from function to competence, In M. Richter and S. Andresen (eds), The politicization of parenthood: Shifting private and public responsibilities in education and child rearing, Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gillies, V., Edwards, R., and Horsley, N. (2016) Brave new brains: sociology, family and the politics of knowledge, The Sociological Review, 64: 21937. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12374

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodgson, N. and Ramaekers, S. (2019) Philosophical presentations of raising children: The grammar of upbringing, London: Palgrave.

  • Klett-Davies, M. (ed) (2010) Is parenting a class issue?, Family and Parenting Institute.

  • Knijn, T. and Hopman, M. (2015) Parenting support in the Dutch ‘participation society, Social Policy and Society, 14: 64556. doi: 10.1017/S1474746415000329

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, E., Bristow, J., Faircloth, C. and Macvarish, J. (2014) Parenting culture studies, London: Palgrave.

  • Lupton, D. (2013) Quantifying the body: monitoring and measuring health in the age of mHealth technologies, Critical Public Health, 23(4): 393403. doi: 10.1080/09581596.2013.794931

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupton, D. and Williamson, B. (2017) The datafied child: the dataveillance of children and implications for their rights, New Media & Society, 19(5): 78094. doi: 10.1177/1461444816686328

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackler, S. (2017) Raising a human: an arendtian inquiry into child-rearing in a technological era, Keynote address, Philosophy of Education conference, Seattle, March.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacVarish, J. (2016) Neuroparenting: The expert invasion of family life, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • McIlvenny, P. (2008) A home away from home: mediating parentcraft and domestic space in a reality TV parenting program, Home Cultures: The Journal of Architecture, Design and Domestic Space, 5(2): 14166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mollenhauer, K. (2014 [1983]) Forgotten connections: On culture and upbringing, Edited and translated by N. Friesen, London and New York: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nadesan, M.H. (2002) Engineering the entrepreneurial infant: brain science, infant development toys, and governmentality, Cultural Studies, 16(3): 40132. doi: 10.1080/09502380210128315

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Peters, R. S. (2015 [1959]) Ethics and education, Abingdon: Routledge Revivals.

  • Ramaekers, S. and Suissa, J. (2012) The claims of parenting: Reasons, responsibility, and society, Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Richter, M. and Andresen, S. (eds) (2012) The politicization of parenthood. Shifting private and public responsibilities in education and child rearing, Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roberts‐Holmes, G. and Bradbury, A. (2016) Governance, accountability and the datafication of early years education in England, British Educational Research Journal, 42: 60013, doi: 10.1002/berj.3221.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simons, M. (2015) Governing education without reform: the power of the example, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36(5): 71231. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2014.892660

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, R. (2010). Total parenting, Educational Theory, 60: 35769. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2010.00363.x

  • Stiegler, B. (2010) Taking care of youth and the generations, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

  • Williamson, B. (2014) Reassembling children as data doppelgangers: how databases are making education machine-readable, Paper presented at the Powerful Knowledge conference, 16 May, University of Bristol.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williamson, B. (2016) Digital education governance: data visualization, predictive analytics, and ‘real-time’ policy instruments, Journal of Education Policy, 31(2): 12341. doi: 10.1080/02680939.2015.1035758

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williamson, B. (2017) Decoding ClassDojo: psycho-policy, social emotional learning and persuasive educational technologies, Learning, Media and Technology, 42(4): 44053. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2017.1278020

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Willson, M. (2018) Raising the ideal child? Algorithms, quantification and prediction, Media, Culture & Society, Online First.

  • Arendt, H. (2006 [1961]) Between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought, London: Penguin.

  • Bouverne-De Bie, M., Roose, R., Verschelden, G., Vanthyne, T. and Vandenbroeck, M. (2006) Van opvoedingsbelofte als maatschappelijke eis naar een maatschappelijk engagement in de opvoeding, In HIG (ed), Van huwelijkscontract naar opvoedingsbelofte, Schaarbeek: Hoger Instituut voor Gezinswetenschappen, pp. 6066.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bristow, J. (2009) Standing up to supernanny, Exeter: Societas Imprint Academic.

  • Bucher, T. (2018) If … then: Algorithmic power and politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Cavell, S. (1979) The claim of reason: Wittgenstein, skepticism, morality, and tragedy, New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Cavell, S. (1990) Conditions handsome and unhandsome: The constitution of Emersonian perfectionism, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dahlstedt, M. and Fejes, A. (2014) Family makeover: coaching, confession and parental responsibility, Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 22(2): 16988. doi: 10.1080/14681366.2013.812136

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daly, M. (2013) Parenting support: another gender-related policy illusion in Europe?, Women’s Studies International Forum, 41: 2238.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Daly, M. and Brady, R. (2015) Parenting support in England: the bedding down of a new policy, Social Policy and Society, 14: 63344. doi: 10.1017/S1474746415000214

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De Vos, J. (2012) Psychologisation in times of globalisation, Hove: Routledge.

  • De Vos, J. (2016) The metamorphoses of the brain: Neurologisation and its discontents, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. (2017). Challenging the politics of early intervention: Who’s ‘saving’ children and why, Bristol: Policy Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Faircloth, C., Hoffman, D. and Layne, L. (2013). Parenting in global perspective: Negotiating ideologies of kinship, self and politics, London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Friesen, N. (2014) Translator’s introduction. Culture and upbringing in theory and practice. In K. Mollenhauer, Forgotten connections: On culture and upbringing (trans. N. Friesen), Abingdon: Routledge, pp. xvixlx. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Furedi, F. (2001) Paranoid parenting: Why ignoring the experts may be best for your child, London: Continuum Press.

  • Furedi, F. and Bristow, J. (2008) Licensed to hug, Civitas.

  • Gillies, V. (2005) Meeting parents’ needs? Discourses of “support” and “inclusion” in family policy, Critical Social Policy, 25: 7090. doi: 10.1177/0261018305048968

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gillies, V. (2012) Family policy and the politics of parenting: from function to competence, In M. Richter and S. Andresen (eds), The politicization of parenthood: Shifting private and public responsibilities in education and child rearing, Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gillies, V., Edwards, R., and Horsley, N. (2016) Brave new brains: sociology, family and the politics of knowledge, The Sociological Review, 64: 21937. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12374

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodgson, N. and Ramaekers, S. (2019) Philosophical presentations of raising children: The grammar of upbringing, London: Palgrave.

  • Klett-Davies, M. (ed) (2010) Is parenting a class issue?, Family and Parenting Institute.

  • Knijn, T. and Hopman, M. (2015) Parenting support in the Dutch ‘participation society, Social Policy and Society, 14: 64556. doi: 10.1017/S1474746415000329

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, E., Bristow, J., Faircloth, C. and Macvarish, J. (2014) Parenting culture studies, London: Palgrave.

  • Lupton, D. (2013) Quantifying the body: monitoring and measuring health in the age of mHealth technologies, Critical Public Health, 23(4): 393403. doi: 10.1080/09581596.2013.794931

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lupton, D. and Williamson, B. (2017) The datafied child: the dataveillance of children and implications for their rights, New Media & Society, 19(5): 78094. doi: 10.1177/1461444816686328

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackler, S. (2017) Raising a human: an arendtian inquiry into child-rearing in a technological era, Keynote address, Philosophy of Education conference, Seattle, March.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacVarish, J. (2016) Neuroparenting: The expert invasion of family life, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • McIlvenny, P. (2008) A home away from home: mediating parentcraft and domestic space in a reality TV parenting program, Home Cultures: The Journal of Architecture, Design and Domestic Space, 5(2): 14166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mollenhauer, K. (2014 [1983]) Forgotten connections: On culture and upbringing, Edited and translated by N. Friesen, London and New York: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nadesan, M.H. (2002) Engineering the entrepreneurial infant: brain science, infant development toys, and governmentality, Cultural Studies, 16(3): 40132. doi: 10.1080/09502380210128315

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Peters, R. S. (2015 [1959]) Ethics and education, Abingdon: Routledge Revivals.

  • Ramaekers, S. and Suissa, J. (2012) The claims of parenting: Reasons, responsibility, and society, Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Richter, M. and Andresen, S. (eds) (2012) The politicization of parenthood. Shifting private and public responsibilities in education and child rearing, Dordrecht: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roberts‐Holmes, G. and Bradbury, A. (2016) Governance, accountability and the datafication of early years education in England, British Educational Research Journal, 42: 60013, doi: 10.1002/berj.3221.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simons, M. (2015) Governing education without reform: the power of the example, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36(5): 71231. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2014.892660

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, R. (2010). Total parenting, Educational Theory, 60: 35769. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2010.00363.x

  • Stiegler, B. (2010) Taking care of youth and the generations, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

  • Williamson, B. (2014) Reassembling children as data doppelgangers: how databases are making education machine-readable, Paper presented at the Powerful Knowledge conference, 16 May, University of Bristol.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williamson, B. (2016) Digital education governance: data visualization, predictive analytics, and ‘real-time’ policy instruments, Journal of Education Policy, 31(2): 12341. doi: 10.1080/02680939.2015.1035758

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williamson, B. (2017) Decoding ClassDojo: psycho-policy, social emotional learning and persuasive educational technologies, Learning, Media and Technology, 42(4): 44053. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2017.1278020

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Willson, M. (2018) Raising the ideal child? Algorithms, quantification and prediction, Media, Culture & Society, Online First.

  • 1 KU Leuven, , Belgium
  • | 2 Liverpool Hope University, , UK

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 24 24 24
PDF Downloads 17 17 17

Altmetrics

Dimensions