Placed Parenting, locating unrest: failed femininities, troubled mothers and rioting subjects


Critical attention has been given to the consolidation of classed forms of placed personhood, as compelling future-orientated and self-regulating subjects that 'fit' into contemporary economic and social formation. These forms of personhood, spoken of as moral character and behavioural 'traits', are increasingly attached to placed parenthood: as that which (self)locates in the right moral and material terrain. Good subjects – made through good parenting and in particular via 'good mothers' – are tasked with self-optimizing and bringing forward their own futures and those of their families (Allen and Osgood 2009; Armstrong 2010; Evans 2010, Gillies 2007; Lawler 2000; Taylor 2012a; Taylor and Addison 2011). A broader 'public' as concerned with equity, welfare and redistribution is dis-placed and entirely re-placed with a self-orientated 'enterprising' privatized response. This limited response is self-congratulating of its own 'responsibility' and condemning of those who 'fail' heightened efforts (in times of 'cutting back' parent-citizens are told simply to be more 'efficient'). 'Necessity' and 'austerity' are, as the editors of this special issue highlight, invoked to re-do all kind of classed and gendered violence, where the most privileged sections of society are evacuated from blame in times of economic crisis: in contrast, what re-circulates is a stated need for poor, 'failing mothers' to 'step-up' for all our sakes. Those who cannot bring themselves forward and propel into this neo-liberal future are increasingly condemned as the wrong kind of parents. This piece aims to chart some of the 'ugliness of parenting' (Taylor 2009, 2012b) as placed parenthood attaches to specific classed locales and subjects as that which 'fails' and 'troubles' the future. This is witnessed in the example of and responses to the English Riots of 2011, which is placed as a case study casting light on intersections of class, race, gender and sexuality in forms of placed parenthood.

How to Cite

Allen, K. & Taylor, Y., (2012) “Placed Parenting, locating unrest: failed femininities, troubled mothers and rioting subjects”, Studies in the Maternal 4(2), 1-25. doi:


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Kim Allen
Yvette Taylor



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