Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child

Pam Lowe, Ellie Lee, Jan Macvarish

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

In recent years, claims about children's developing brains have become central to the formation of child health and welfare policies in England. While these policies assert that they are based on neuro-scientific discoveries, their relationship to neuroscience itself has been debated. However what is clear is that they portray a particular understanding of children and childhood, one that is marked by a lack of acknowledgment of child personhood. Using an analysis of key government-commissioned reports and additional advocacy documents, this chapter illustrates the ways that the mind of the child is reduced to the brain, and this brain comes to represent the child. It is argued that a highly reductionist and limiting construction of the child is produced, alongside the idea that parenting is the main factor in child development. It is concluded that this focus on children's brains, with its accompanying deterministic perspective on parenting, overlooks children's embodied lives and this has implications for the design of children's health and welfare services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience
EditorsGeraldine Brady, Pam Lowe, Sonja Olin Lauritzen
Place of PublicationChirchester (UK)
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
Pages27-40
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-06951-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2015

Publication series

NameSociology of Health and Illness Monographs
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
Number2
Volume37

Fingerprint

neurosciences
health policy
public health
discourse
brain
social policy
welfare
childhood

Keywords

  • child health
  • social group
  • sociology of childhood perspective

Cite this

Lowe, P., Lee, E., & Macvarish, J. (2015). Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. In G. Brady, P. Lowe, & S. Olin Lauritzen (Eds.), Children, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience (pp. 27-40). (Sociology of Health and Illness Monographs; Vol. 37, No. 2). Chirchester (UK): Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119069522.ch3
Lowe, Pam ; Lee, Ellie ; Macvarish, Jan. / Biologising parenting : neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. Children, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience. editor / Geraldine Brady ; Pam Lowe ; Sonja Olin Lauritzen. Chirchester (UK) : Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. pp. 27-40 (Sociology of Health and Illness Monographs; 2).
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Lowe, P, Lee, E & Macvarish, J 2015, Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. in G Brady, P Lowe & S Olin Lauritzen (eds), Children, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience. Sociology of Health and Illness Monographs, no. 2, vol. 37, Wiley-Blackwell, Chirchester (UK), pp. 27-40. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119069522.ch3

Biologising parenting : neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. / Lowe, Pam; Lee, Ellie; Macvarish, Jan.

Children, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience. ed. / Geraldine Brady; Pam Lowe; Sonja Olin Lauritzen. Chirchester (UK) : Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. p. 27-40 (Sociology of Health and Illness Monographs; Vol. 37, No. 2).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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AB - In recent years, claims about children's developing brains have become central to the formation of child health and welfare policies in England. While these policies assert that they are based on neuro-scientific discoveries, their relationship to neuroscience itself has been debated. However what is clear is that they portray a particular understanding of children and childhood, one that is marked by a lack of acknowledgment of child personhood. Using an analysis of key government-commissioned reports and additional advocacy documents, this chapter illustrates the ways that the mind of the child is reduced to the brain, and this brain comes to represent the child. It is argued that a highly reductionist and limiting construction of the child is produced, alongside the idea that parenting is the main factor in child development. It is concluded that this focus on children's brains, with its accompanying deterministic perspective on parenting, overlooks children's embodied lives and this has implications for the design of children's health and welfare services.

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Lowe P, Lee E, Macvarish J. Biologising parenting: neuroscience discourse, English social and public health policy and understandings of the child. In Brady G, Lowe P, Olin Lauritzen S, editors, Children, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience. Chirchester (UK): Wiley-Blackwell. 2015. p. 27-40. (Sociology of Health and Illness Monographs; 2). https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119069522.ch3