September 11, 2010

Readings: Modern Parents

The first enemy was sugar, then sweets and biscuits, then brands such as Coca Cola, and bigger temptations such as Barbie dolls and the ubiquitous gun: ‘an unceasing struggle between what is regarded as the world of nature and the artificial world of commodity materialism’.* The battles over diet and gender are regarded as efforts to resist commercialism and consumerism, efforts that invariably end first in capitulation and then in the withdrawal that characterises the grandparental generation, who find it easier to allow the child freedom to choose its own style...

Parents do not give up without a struggle, within which their concept of biology plays a major role. It is very common for such parents to insist that their infants have an allergy to anything artificial. It is as though the infants’ bodies have antennae attuned to the mothers’ ideology of nature. Infants are said to come out in spots as soon as they ingest any kind of additive or the wrong E-number. If the children do not oblige (with spots) then the parents may claim these additives cause behavioural problems, which is a harder claim to contest.
- Marilyn Strathern from "Kinship, Law and the Unexpected"

* Miller, Daniel. 1997. How infants grow mothers in North London. Theory, Culture and Society 14: 67 –88.


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