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


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


Kim Allen ,

About Kim
Kim Allen is Research Fellow at the Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Manchester Metropolitan University. Kim's research takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining inequalities of social class and gender within the spaces of education, family, work and popular culture. Kim has published in journals including Discourse; Studies in the Maternal; British Journal of the Sociology of Education; Sociology; and Urban Studies. Kim is co-investigator on the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project 'Celebrity culture and young people's classed and gendered aspirations', and co-investigator on the ESRC seminar series, 'New Perspectives on Education and Culture'.
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Yvette Taylor

About Yvette
Yvette Taylor is Professor in Social and Policy Studies and Head of the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University. Books include Fitting Into Place? Class and Gender Geographies and Temporalities (Ashgate 2012); Lesbian and Gay Parenting: Securing Social and Educational Capitals (Palgrave 2009) and Working-Class Lesbian Life: Classed Outsiders (Palgrave 2007). Edited collections include Educational Diversity (Palgrave 2012); Sexualities: Reflections and Futures (2012); Theorizing Intersectionality and Sexuality (Palgrave 2010) and Classed Intersections: Spaces, Selves, Knowledges (Ashgate 2010). She has published in British Journal of the Sociology of Education, Sociological Research Online, Sexualities, Feminist Theory. Yvette is currently working on an ESRC standard grant 'Making space for queer identifying religious youth' and recently completed an ESRC (2007-2009) funded project 'From the Coal Face to the Car Park? Intersections of Class and Gender in the North East of England'. She is principal investigator on an ESRC-funded seminar series 'Critical Diversities' (2012-2014).
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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. and Taylor, Y., 2012. Placed Parenting, locating unrest: failed femininities, troubled mothers and rioting subjects. Studies in the Maternal, 4(2), pp.1–25. DOI:
Published on 01 Jul 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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