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Research projects

The child as a project. Parenting ideals, parenting practices, and the professionalization of parenthood.

About this project

Project information

Project status



Christine Roman

Research subject

Never before have so many children been brought into the world as a result of premeditated choices. The timing of children is often planned so strategically that children can be seen to have become projects in a life master plan. A strong confidence in parents’ ability to shape their children has also increasingly cast the individual child as a project. This phenomenon has been given saliency by sociological theories on the emergence of a new style of parenting distinguished by a greater focus on the child, the professionalization of parenthood as well as the more prevalent role played by expert discourses. There is, however, relatively little empirical knowledge of parenting ideals, practices and attitudes to experts and their advice. Informed by sociological theories positing an increased dependency on experts and the professionalization of parenthood, this study aims to examine parenting ideals and practices in Sweden. Particular emphasis is put on parents’ attitudes to experts as well as the experts’ instructions and guidance on parenting. To what degree do sociological theories on child-oriented, intensified and expert-dependent parenting correspond to parents’ own perceptions and experiences? The vast majority of Swedish children start preschool at an early age at the same time as Swedish fathers, from an international perspective, take comparatively considerable responsibility for the practical care of their children. What are the implications of sharing the responsibility for rearing children between parents and childcare experts to such an extent in Sweden when compared to many other countries? To what extent and in what way do class and gender affect Swedish parenting styles? The main empirical material of this qualitative study consists of thirty in-depth interviews with a strategic selection of parents with small children as well as focus group interviews, complemented by document analysis.

Research funding bodies

  • The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE)