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What is a Parent

A Socio-Legal Analysis

by Andrew Bainham Author · Shelley Day Sclater Author


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This collection of essays is the product of a series of seminars held at the University of Cambridge in 1998 under the auspices of the newly formed Cambridge Socio-Legal Group. The book presents an interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of parenthood and its various manifestations in contemporary society. It is divided into three sections dealing respectively with defining parenthood, new issues in contemporary parenting and parenting post-divorce. Each contributor addresses the central question 'What is a Parent?' from the perspective of his or her own discipline, thus bringing together ideas about parents derived from law, sociology, psychology, biology and criminology.

Despite the familiar and apparently obvious answer to this question the notion of 'parent' emerges from the analysis as a contested concept. Definitions are various and fluid, parenting practices are by no means fixed, and ideologies which frame who parents are and what they do are subject to disruptions from several quarters. In short, the essays in this book show the ways in which 'parent' like 'child' is a term with a shifting meaning and 'parenthood' refers to a fluid set of social practices which are historically and culturally situated.

Contributors: Andrew Bainham, Carol Brayne, Stuart Bridge, Rachel Cook, Shelley Day Sclater, Margaret Ely, Loraine Gelsthorpe, Susan Golombok, Jack Goody, Jonathan Herring, Felicia Huppert, Allison James, Martin Johnson, Bridget Lindley, Mavis Maclean, Juliet Mitchell, Ros Pickford, Martin Richards, Wendy Solomou, Candida Yates

Publication Details

Hart Publishing Ltd
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  • Adobe PDF eBook 959.7 KB

Shelley Day Sclater (Author)

Shelley Day Sclater is a Reader in Psycho-Social Studies at the University of East London and co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research.

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Andrew Bainham (Author)

Andrew Bainham is a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge and Reader in Family Law and Policy at the University of Cambridge.

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Martin Richards (Author)

Martin Richards is Emeritus Professor of Family Research at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge.

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What is a Parent
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