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By Sally Sales (auth.)

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Additional info for Adoption, Family and the Paradox of Origins: A Foucauldian History

Example text

The family – even when its members were engaged in abuse or cruelty – was considered beyond public intervention. Second, and following on from the above point, matters of child welfare were more focused on cruelties of the public space, rather than cruelties of the domestic home. The quality of parenting was generally disregarded, while the focus of reform and intervention would be the immorality of the environment – the factory floor, the street, the slum dwelling, the illegitimate birth. Third, parenting was about providing the right moral environment and less about a psychological relationship.

Foucault (2000b, p. 216) traces how the family moved from being a model for government to being an instrument of government, a move which will make intervention into the family both necessary and desirable: ‘The family becomes ... ’ Class was a significant structuring force in how outside intervention operated to regulate family life; the middle- class family and the working- class family were subject to very different regulatory processes. Foucault (1978, p. ’ The middle-class family 32 Adoption, Family and the Paradox of Origins would be subject to the medical/psychotherapeutic gaze, whilst the working- class family would be subject to a legal and policing intervention.

However, its function in these respects had not been stabilised and social groupings that fell outside of the family unit were active participants in adopting children. Triseliotis (1998a, p. 63) understands the dominantly working- class nature of pre-war adoption as an effect of the middle- class fears about ‘hereditary and bad blood’. As Chapter 2 discussed, the emergent middle classes secured their line of descent through preserving a healthy blood line achieved by knowledge about its origins.

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