Compelled to perform: Australian education policy and parenting in an epoch of individualisation

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper examines how Australian print media delineates a ‘culturally prescribed standard of parenting’ through its reporting of neo-liberal education policy, specifically the Australian National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in two major Australian newspapers between 2016 and 2017. Drawing upon Beck’s (2002, 2007) theory of individualisation and Beck and Beck-Gernsheim’s (2004) conceptualisation of modern parenting imperatives, findings from qualitative content analysis illustrate a prescribed culture of ‘good parenting’ in alignment with representations of NAPLAN as an active policy. ‘Good parenting’ sees parents guarding against educational risk and working towards individual solutions to problems previously framed in terms of structural issues and inequalities. Media’s interpretation and articulation of policy and parenting is argued as a direct response to conditions of individualisation articulated through neo-liberal government policy compelling parents to performance, projects of self-making and choice-biographies. Contemporary parenting cultures depicted in media’s representation of NAPLAN are constructed relative to conditions of individualisation in a post-welfare society, including negotiation of risk; contradictory advice; and an imperative to act. Findings demonstrate individualisation as an objective social reality imposed on parents through education policy and displayed through transfigured cultures of parenting without reference to traditional structures of class, gender, or ethnicity.


ConferenceThe Australian Sociological Association Conference 2018
Abbreviated titlePrecarity, Rights and Resistance
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