The state, parenting, and the populist energies of anxiety

Educational Theory 60 (3):325-340 (2010)
In this essay James Conroy raises the question of how far the state should engage in the rearing of children, looking in particular at homeschooling as a site for contestation. He considers this question by looking specifically at recent developments in the United Kingdom around the elision of child safeguarding issues with concern about the control of home education. In the first part of the essay, Conroy explores some general questions about the relation between politics and populism, and the consequences for the prerogatives of parents. In the second part of the essay, he interrogates constructivist accounts of the family and offers something of a historical corrective to the widely held view that the very conceit of the family is a “modern” invention. This analysis leads Conroy to conclude that, while states do have a proper locus in the upbringing of children, they must make certain presumptions in favor of the parent if governmental responses to home education are to be considered political rather than populist and “controlling.”
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DOI 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2010.00361.x
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