Call for Papers: The privacy and politicization of parenting in Europe
Family as a set of practices and as an object of external influences

Special Issue’s Editors:
dr hab. Małgorzata Sikorska, Faculty of Sociology, University of Warsaw
dr hab. Paula Pustułka, Institute of Social Sciences, SWPS University

In the area of family life, what is personal and private has always been clashing with what is public and political. A prime example of this can be seen in relation to parenthood: becoming a mother/father and caring for children is a biographical turning point that warrants redefinitions of identity. For a personal standpoint, it typically signals changes and renegotiations in a couple’s relationship and may alter bonds with other family members (e.g., the child’s grandparents). On a level of social relations, specifically in terms of state interests,, the birth of a child ultimately transforms the couple into “a family” as an institution of socialization for the new generation of citizens.

In European welfare regimes, the family can become the recipient of “external” state support, which concurrently positions it as an “object” of a more targeted and intensified social control. In other words, while the relationships between the individuals who comprise families, their emotions, family rituals, and daily practices may reside in the realm of private and intimate experiences, the family as a social institution is an “object” of external influences: political (e.g. social policies; law pertaining to family domain), social (e.g. public discourses, social norms), and economic (e.g. situation on the labor market influencing family life and the division duties; economic situation of families).

The personal/public or private/political distinctions can be seen in various aspects of lives, policies and discourses. Some of them are:
• socio-cultural and religious norms framing definitions of family in various European contexts: what social actors and institutions define which relationships could be a family relation; what are the conceptualisations of “alternative” or even “pathological” families;.
• expertise and media influences on family: defining, for example what is “good” parenting; who could be called “good” mother/father, but also the rise of mediatized / celebrity expertise and the contestations rooted in the ‘good-enough’ mothering debates;
• families and welfare: the ways in which public policies and political discourses determine the conditions of families being supported (or not) by public services and institutions, including childcare and education, as well as health services;
• families and the labor market: participation of family members in the public sphere through the workforce pointing to how work-life/work-home balance and boundaries are set up in the policies and “lived” or practiced at home;
• families and law: legislation e.g. concerning the rights of children and the rights of parents, with one example being the ban on physical punishment of children by parents/guardians introduced in 2010;
• families and crises: family life during unsettling events and uncommon occurrences with widespread consequences (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic).

Authors interested in theoretical reflection and conducting empirical research on the tensions between the private and public spheres are invited to submit paper proposals. We especially encourage submissions offering the discussion of the following issues:

• The broadly understood influences of social norms and patterns, expert discourses, public policies, economic conditions, labor market situation, and legislation on parenthood (motherhood/fatherhood);
• Family life in politics and the public sphere - e.g.: parents’ strikes; social movements (e.g., fathers’ rights); politicization of reproduction and parenting; the influence of politicians and variously positioned experts on defining the family;
• Family life in practice - strategies of individuals in the face of the above-mentioned external factors. Particularly the issues of alternative models of marital/intimate life; decisions of couples and families on the division of household responsibilities, care and leave; work-life balance; intensive parenting practices;
• Fertility in an interdisciplinary perspective, e.g., demographic determinants of fertility; reproductive agency; childlessness; reproductive ambiguity;
• The impact of social crises on family life and parenthood - e.g., the impact of pandemics on family life, gender and (inter)generational relations.

Instructions and Deadlines:

• Interested Authors are invited to submit extended 500-700 words abstract proposals. The abstracts should include (as applicable): a specific research question/aim of the paper, brief information on the literature it draws upon, clarification of the research methods and procedures, key findings and/or contributions. The deadline for the submissions of abstracts to guest editors - Małgorzata Sikorska: and Paula Pustułka:
is October 10th, 2022.
• Authors will be notified about the status of their submission by October 20th. For this issue, the editors are planning to accept 5–8 papers.
• The first version of manuscript (between 6,000 and 9,000 words - including abstract, references and footnotes), consistent with the Journal’s Instructions for Authors (see below), needs to be submitted by January 31th, 2023.
• The editors of the Special Issue intend to hold an online workshop with all authors to collaboratively develop papers and provide feedback. This virtual meeting will take place in February 2023.
The final version of the manuscript needs to be submitted by March 31th, 2023.
• We envision a rigorous peer-review process to be completed by mid-2023, with the issue published in 2023.