Brain science and early years policy: Hopeful ethos or ‘cruel optimism’?

Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. 2015. Brain science and early years policy: Hopeful ethos or ‘cruel optimism’? Critical Social Policy. 35 (2), pp. 167-187. doi:10.1177/0261018315574020

TitleBrain science and early years policy: Hopeful ethos or ‘cruel optimism’?
AuthorsEdwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N.
Abstract

Ideas that the quality of parental nurturing and attachment in the first years of a child’s life is formative, hard-wiring their brains for success or failure, are reflected in policy reports from across the political spectrum and in targeted services delivering early intervention. In this article we draw on our research into ‘Brain science and early intervention’, using reviews of key policy literature and interviews with influential advocates of early intervention and with early years practitioners, to critically assess the ramifications and implications of these claims. Rather than the ‘hopeful ethos’ proffered by advocates of the progressive nature of brain science and early intervention, we show that brain claims are justifying gendered, raced and social inequalities, positioning poor mothers as architects of their children’s deprivation.

Keywordsearly intervention, infant brain, mothering, neuroscience, social class
JournalCritical Social Policy
Journal citation35 (2), pp. 167-187
ISSN0261-0183
Year2015
PublisherSage
Accepted author manuscriptCSP article accepted.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/0261018315574020
Publication dates
Published26 Feb 2015

Related outputs

(M)othering and the politics of early intervention: biologisation and the reproduction of gendered, classed and raced inequalities
Gillies, V. and Edwards, R. 2019. (M)othering and the politics of early intervention: biologisation and the reproduction of gendered, classed and raced inequalities. Revue des politiques sociales et familiales.

Parallels and ruptures in the neoliberal intensive parenting regime
Gillies, V. 2019. Parallels and ruptures in the neoliberal intensive parenting regime. Families, Relationships and Societies.

All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making?
Gillies, V., White, S. and Edwards, R. 2019. All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making? Social Policy and Society. 18 (3), pp. 457-466. doi:10.1017/S147474641900006X

Troubling Children’s Families: Who’s Troubled and Why? Approaches to Inter-Cultural Dialogue
Ribbens McCarthy, J and Gillies, V. 2018. Troubling Children’s Families: Who’s Troubled and Why? Approaches to Inter-Cultural Dialogue. Sociological Research Online. 23 (1), pp. 219-244. doi:10.1177/1360780417746871

Challenging the politics of early intervention: who's 'saving' children and why
Gillies, V., Edwards, R. and Horsley, N. 2017. Challenging the politics of early intervention: who's 'saving' children and why. Bristol Policy Press.

'What about the children?' Re-engineering citizens of the future
Gillies, V. 2017. 'What about the children?' Re-engineering citizens of the future . in: Pykett, J., Jones, R. and Whitehead, M. (ed.) Psychological Governance and Public Policy Abingdon Routledge.

Brave new brains: sociology, family and the politics of knowledge
Gillies, V., Edwards, R. and Horsley, N. 2016. Brave new brains: sociology, family and the politics of knowledge. Sociological Review. 64 (2), p. 219–237. doi:10.1111/1467-954X.12374

Pushed to the Edge: Inclusion and Behaviour Support in Schools
Gillies, V. 2016. Pushed to the Edge: Inclusion and Behaviour Support in Schools. Bristol Policy Press.

Early intervention and evidence-based policy and practice: framing and taming
Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. 2015. Early intervention and evidence-based policy and practice: framing and taming. Social Policy and Society. 15 (1), pp. 1-10. doi:10.1017/S1474746415000081

Troubling families: parenting and the politics of early intervention
Gillies, V. 2014. Troubling families: parenting and the politics of early intervention. in: Wagg, S. and Pilcher, J. (ed.) Thatcher’s Grandchildren Politics and Childhood in the Twenty-First Century London Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 204-224

Marginalised Mothers: Exploring Working Class Experiences
Gillies, V. 2007. Marginalised Mothers: Exploring Working Class Experiences. London Routledge.

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/9yy3w/brain-science-and-early-years-policy-hopeful-ethos-or-cruel-optimism


Share this
Tweet
Email