Child rearing in the “risk” society: On the discourse of rights and the “best interests of a child”

Educational Theory 60 (3):271-284 (2010)
Due to a number of radical changes in society, the role of parents in the upbringing of their children has been redefined. In this essay, Paul Smeyers argues that “risk” thinking, and the technologization that goes with it in the context of child rearing, naturally leads to the rights discourse, but that thinking about the relation between parents and children in terms of rights confronts one with a number of insurmountable problems. The concept of the “best interests of a child” that is often invoked is, to say the least, not at all clear. Smeyers contends that while the discourse of rights is clearly important and relevant insofar as the relation between parents and the state are discussed, it impoverishes our understanding of relations of family members when used as an all‐inclusive framework in that context. Therefore, he concludes that we must surpass the totalizing tendency of the transformation of the social realm into a system, of defining the relation between parents and children in technical terms, and of holding parents liable for their children's upbringing
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DOI 10.1111/j.1741-5446.2010.00358.x
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