University of Leicester
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Representing anxious parents in China: a study of ‘Parenting Science’ magazine 1980-2016

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-04-30, 15:27 authored by Qian Gong
This paper analyses the representation of parental practices in Parenting Science, the first and longest running parenting magazine published in China since 1980. Drawing on Foucault’s work on governmentality and biopolitics as well as their current development in cultural studies and sociology of health, this paper critically investigates the cultural frames that surround parental practices relating to the health and development of young children. It explores how issues of medicalisation, intensive parenting, responsibility and selfmanagement are represented in the magazine, ‘reflecting’ as well as ‘reinforcing’ dominant cultural ideas of parenting and childrearing in China. Based on a qualitative content analysis of 2,295 items from 37 issues of the magazine (1980-2016), including editorials, feature stories, standard articles, Q&As, adverts and other short items, this paper has identified three major frames of parental practices in monitoring and facilitating children’s health, development and wellbeing: 1) the medicalisation of children’s health problems, 2) the rise of expert authority, 3) and the responsibilisation of parents. This paper argues that these frames underpin the construction of an intensive and anxious parenting culture in China and serve as powerful tools of biopolitical control.



European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2019

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Media, Communication and Sociology


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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European Journal of Cultural Studies


SAGE Publications (UK and US)



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