Gouverner en tant que pairs (governing as peers): experts réticents et parents compétents au sein de l’État-providence suédois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In recent years, parenting support has gained traction in the Swedish welfare state in both policy and practice. Parenting is seen as determining child outcomes and are thus in need of knowledge and expertise. Yet, at the same time, parents are conceptualised as experts of their own child. The intriguing paradox between parents being experts while at the same time being in need of parenting support is the topic of this article.
Based on interviews with parenting support actors, we identify that parenting support actors are “reluctant expert”, keen to respect the autonomy of parents and careful not to appear paternalistic. However, according to the parenting support actors interviewed in this study, suppressing the expert role can also be a strategy to attract more parents and to foster the self-realisation of the “competent parent”.
It is argued that the “reluctant expert” and the “competent parent” can only be understood if parenting support practices are viewed as a form of micro-technologies for governing parents within a neoliberal frame, emphasising indirect and horizontal steering of parenthood and families. We propose to conceptualise this as “governing as peers”. Typical for the neoliberal frame is also that both problems and solutions are identified at the individual and family level, rather than the structural level, which infers a responsibilisation of parents.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

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


  • Parenting support, Experts, Governmentality, Governing as peers, Sweden, Welfare State
Translated title of the contributionGoverning as peers: Reluctant experts and competent parents in the Swedish welfare state
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)128
Number of pages151
JournalLien social et Politiques
Issue number85
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Åsa Lundqvist

Project: ResearchIndividual research project

View all (1)