Neuroscience and family policy:what becomes of the parent?


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.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > Sociology and Policy
Languages & Social Sciences
Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
Additional Information: © Sage 2015. The final publication is available via Sage at
Uncontrolled Keywords: early intervention,family policy,neuroscience,parenting,therapy culture,Political Science and International Relations
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://journal ... 261018315574019 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2015-05-01
Published Online Date: 2015-02-26
Authors: Macvarish, Jan
Lee, Ellie
Lowe, Pam ( 0000-0001-5933-453X)



Version: Accepted Version

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record