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

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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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Publication date30 Sep 2015
Publication titleChildren, health and well-being : policy debates and lived experience
EditorsGeraldine Brady, Pam Lowe, Sonja Olin Lauritzen
Place of PublicationChirchester (UK)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-06951-5
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameSociology of Health and Illness Monographs


  • child health, social group, sociology of childhood perspective

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