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Migration and parenting: reviewing the debate and calling for future research

Roberta Raffaetà (Department of Sociology and Social Research, Trento University, Trento, Italy)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 7 March 2016




The term “parenting” has come to assume a specific sociological meaning: it defines parents’ role and agency not only with regard to their children, but also to the state, medical doctors, psychologists and educators. How normative stances toward parenting affect the lives of parents has started to be analyzed in the social sciences, however less is known about how the “culture of parenting” impacts on the way migrant families take care of their children. The purpose of this paper is to untangle the conceptual and disciplinary roots of parenting studies stemming from early anthropological studies of kinship and ethno-psychological theories, through to the anthropology of childhood and child rearing and the current socio-anthropological studies of parenting. This review offers conceptual tools for the creation of a critical perspective on migration and parenting.


The paper acknowledges the theoretical and empirical gap in the study of migration and parenting by illustrating the sparse and interdisciplinary literature which has dealt with migration and parenting.


The paper discusses the presented literature’s limits and potentialities in light of the new culture of parenting.


The paper addresses future paths for ethnographic work.



The author thanks Katie Vasey for her generous editing of first draft of this paper, Kathryn Bouskill for her very careful edit of the last version and Francesca Decimo for her stimulating comments. This paper is based on a research supported by a Marie Curie – European Community grants.


Raffaetà, R. (2016), "Migration and parenting: reviewing the debate and calling for future research", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 38-50.



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