Parents at Their Best

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – La Sainte Famille avec le petit oiseau (1650)


Sébastien Roux et Anne-Sophie Vozari publient en 2017 un article dans la revue Ethnography, intitulé « Parents at Their Best: The Ethopolitics of Family Bonding in France ». Ils discutent la notion de « parentalité » et l’éclairent à partir de leurs terrains respectifs sur l’adoption et l’accompagnement médical de la santé mentale maternelle.

La version « Online First » est disponible ici!


In France, the concept of ‘parentality’ has become a key notion in the field of social work since the mid-1990s. This idea serves mostly as a basis for professional evaluations of parents’ ability. However, it does not only prescribe behaviors and implement norms; it has also transformed the way people consider their own family attachments, and adjust individually to new ethical definitions of selves. Based on two complementary ethnographic field studies – one looking at the administrative management of adoption and the other at medical care provision for maternal mental health – this article shows how discourses and practices about parentality serve a policy of self-reform. This article therefore questions how politics of control and regulation that are deployed in the privacy of the family sphere act on an ethical level by inviting subjects to reform themselves for their own good and for the good of others.

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