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Direttore Responsabile: Giulia Golo

Children's Bodies and Construction of Parental Adequacy. A Qualitative Study of the Daily Hygiene Practices of Mothers and Fathers in Italy

TitleChildren's Bodies and Construction of Parental Adequacy. A Qualitative Study of the Daily Hygiene Practices of Mothers and Fathers in Italy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsZaltron F
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published10/2017
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordsbody, child, hygiene practice, parental adequacy

Meanings attributed to the categories of “dirty” and “clean” allow us to understand some of the content that typify today’s representations of appropriate parenting, put into practice by new forms of control and daily care of children’s body (Christensen, 2000; Lupton, 2012; Murcott, 1993). The control of the infant’s body and the construction of parental adequacy will be discussed through the presentation of the results of a study about the daily hygiene practices of mothers and fathers with 2–5 year old children in the city of Padua (Veneto region, Italy). We will cast light on how “expert” (especially medical and pedagogical) knowledge gives shape to modern hygiene techniques through which children’s bodies are represented and managed, knowledge that parents trust in order to perform their duties in a socially appropriate way. We will equally emphasise the sometimes contradictory nature of these sets of “expert” knowledge that convey messages with conflicting representations of the body/child subject: sometimes “vulnerable” and in need of protection, sometimes “unique” and entitled to free self-expression. The most significant outcome produced by this uneven plurality of orientations is the uncertainty that characterises today’s care and more general parental responsibilities.