Learning to become a parent by means of baby robots: negotiating intensive parenting

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This article explores how marginalized young people who are eager to become parents respond to participating in an intensive baby robot programme. In Denmark, baby robots or ‘infant simulators’ are increasingly used by Danish welfare institutions to train, but also discourage, marginalized young people from becoming parents. Based on observations and interviews, the article explores young participants’ wide variation in responses to institutional categorizations that depict this group as lacking fundamental parenting skills. While relative acceptance of institutional
categorizations led some participants to postpone their dream of
having a child, others made use of various tactics to resist their position as
outside the normative ideal of appropriate parenthood and to reconstruct
identities as good parents. The article thus provides insights into the
contested nature of appropriate parenthood and demonstrates how the
effects of parenthood programmes are the outcome of dynamic interactions
between institutional power and participants’ agency, negotiation,
and everyday resistance. In the analysis, the paper uses the concepts of
‘disciplinary power’, ‘resistance’ and ‘intensive parenting’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Social Work Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)245-258
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • social work and social conditions


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