The family and, in particular, maternal behaviour, has long been subject to public scrutiny. However, since the mid-1990s heightened government and media concern with parenting practices has produced a series of escalating moral panics around child welfare issues. While overt parent-bashing and bewailing the demise of the ‘traditional’ family were once associated with the moral majority in the US and old-style Conservatives in the UK, government intrusion into and commentary on family life has become increasingly central to the discourse of all mainstream political parties. The assumption parental incompetency– rather than broader socio-economic conditions–is responsible for a range of social problems has been reflected in public policy and the rise of media commentary (in current affairs journalism and reality TV), on the subject of modern parenting.
Continue reading The Family in Crisis? Neoliberalism and the Politicisation of Parenting and the Family
|24 April 2013|
What does gender mean in an age defined by post-feminist ideologies, and in cultures that have been ‘sexualised’? Women may have been gaining economic, social and cultural entitlements in recent years, but post-Fordist economies continue to exploit gender inequalities. And whilst a variety of ‘new femininities’ have promised freedoms and opportunities, they have also articulated further responsibilities associated with being a woman in the twenty-first century. Similarly, the increasing visibility of so-called ‘softer’ masculinities and the continuing appeal of the metrosexual man seem to signal transformations in the idea of what it means to be a man. Yet such opportunities for softness and flexibility are unevenly available in economic conditions designed to install an equality of inequality. If men are becoming softer and women more post-feminist, how are we to understand the position of queer identities? Is homosexuality ‘disappearing’ in the drive towards homonormativity? Is there a place for gender dissent in lesbian and gay cultures, or do challenges to binary constructions of gender and domestic nuclearity no longer have any meaning in an era of gay marriage?
Continue reading Future Sex
|5 December 2012|
This is the first seminar in our Culture & Polity series, interrogating urgent questions of cultural change in the context of new forms of community, contemporary commodity forms and government policy.
This session will bring together a range of perspectives on the question of digitization and value, from the spheres of media and cultural studies, digital arts practice, and open source enterprise. To what extent do networked digital technologies enable new forms of human subjectivity, social organization and expressive new forms of culture? Do digital production tools and networked communications provide new modalities of intensity and sensation? Or do the materialities of digitization merely extend the field of neoliberal authority? Can technology offer new tools for building communities and potentially emancipate impoverished groups and environments? How do we conceive of value in a digital world?
Continue reading Digitisation and Value
The emergence of discourses constructing the ‘new man’ and his wayward sibling, the ‘new lad’, are now firmly entrenched as subjects to be critiqued in media and cultural studies-informed teaching and research. Continuing to question how these discourses inform the performance of modern masculinities is thus central to a progressive gender politics.
This symposium will explore the extent to which heterosexual men have responded positively to the changing gender relations that inform contemporary social relations. Is it possible, for example, to identify a new form of heterosexual masculinity which is sufficiently self-reflexive not to be fearful of difference? Or are ‘straight’ men still anxious to construct and police boundaries between themselves and the queer or feminized other? And to what extent are men’s attitudes to gender and sexuality still shaped by questions of class, ethnicity and spatial proximity?
Continue reading Softer Masculinities