Skip to main content

Neuroscience and family policy: What becomes of the parent?

Macvarish, Jan, Lee, Ellie, Lowe, Pam (2015) Neuroscience and family policy: What becomes of the parent? Critical Social Policy, 35 (2). pp. 248-269. ISSN 0261-0183. E-ISSN 1461-703X. (doi:10.1177/0261018315574019) (KAR id:47427)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (391kB) Preview
[thumbnail of KAR Critical social polocy pre-pub.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


This article discusses the findings of a study tracing the incorporation of claims about infant brain development into English family policy as part of the longer term development of a ‘parent training’, early intervention agenda. The main focus is on the ways in which the deployment of neuroscientific discourse in family policy creates the basis for a new governmental oversight of parents. We argue that advocacy of ‘early intervention’, in particular that which deploys the authority of ‘the neuroscience’, places parents at the centre of the policy stage but simultaneously

demotes and marginalises them. So we ask, what becomes of the parent when politically and culturally, the child is spoken of as infinitely and permanently neurologically vulnerable to parental influence? In particular, the policy focus on parental emotions and their impact on infant brain development indicates that this represents a biologisation of ‘therapeutic’ governance.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0261018315574019
Uncontrolled keywords: early intervention, family policy, neuroscience, parenting, therapy culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Ellie Lee
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2015 11:54 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 14:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Lee, Ellie:
  • Depositors only (login required):