Capable to Care? Parenting Support Policies and the Changing Concept of Care

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Åsa Lundqvist
Professor in Sociology
Department of Sociology
Lund University

[email protected]


Capable to Care? Parenting Support Policies and the Changing Concept of Care

This paper explores the changing meanings and understandings of the concept of care in parenting support policies in Sweden since the 1990s. Caring responsibilities and practices has historically been framed and negotiated within general family policy reforms, comprising universal child allowances and generous parental leave schemes combined with publicly funded childcare, in turn closely related to the relationship between the parents’ (mothers and fathers) on the one hand and the parent’s and the state on the other – the ‘caring state’. Parenting support policies – aiming at improving and supporting parents in their child-rearing competencies and skills – emerged as a part of this framework. In the case of parenting support policies however, the profound economic crisis and ensuing austerity policies in the 1990s paved the way for new ideas and policy debates on individualization, freedom of choice and how to best practice parenthood, indicating a discursive shift towards the “autonomous” and “competent parent”. As a result, the very foundation of the ‘caring state’ was interlocked with other ideals, based on ‘caring capabilities’, i.e. parents’ capabilities to take care of their own children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event24th International Conference of Europeanists: Towards a Caring Society? The Role of Cultural Ideas, Institutions and Actors in the Historical Development of Care Policies, Session 1 - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 2017 Jul 122017 Jul 14


Conference24th International Conference of Europeanists
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


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