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Psychological concepts and ideas, such as theories of ‘attachment’, can be used to govern families at a distance as well as more closely and directly. In recent decades good mothering/parenting has been related to responsibilities for children’s brain development more specifically, as a means of achieving desirable futures. Yet, the ways in which parents engage with neuroscience, and how they value recommendations based on this vis-à-vis other forms of expertise, is not often examined. This paper is focused on these issues, while – at the same time – refusing to reify neuroscientific advice. In this respect, we are orientated by the accounts of 22 caregivers (predominantly, mothers) in Scotland who we interviewed about the neuroscientific ideas about parenting that they encountered and negotiated through one of two voluntary parenting programmes. Within the interviews, our participants discussed far broader advice they received (e.g., through books, friends, families), rather than just that associated with neuroscience. In examining parents’ negotiations of advice that ranged widely in terms of scope and nature, we demonstrate how particular configurations of the past and the future were constructed through the interviews. Accordingly, we analyse how these temporal imaginaries help to justify accounts of parenting practices. Constructions of possible (gendered and classed) futures and pasts contoured our participants’ engagements with advice and expertise. Consequently, we demonstrate that temporal imaginaries can play an important role in how mothers (and other caregivers) reflexively develop and situate their own epistemologies of parenting.
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1/06/15 → 31/10/21