Call for Abastract for ECPG panel: Regulating the Family, Racializing the Family?

How are migrants, non-nationals, racialized and othered individuals affected by and engaging with family politics and policies?

We invite contributions to a panel to be submitted to the European Conference on Politics and Gender, to be held 6-8 July 2022 in Ljubljana.

The relationship between “the state” and “the family” has been at the heart of many different studies (Bourdieu 1996, Bonizzoni 2018; Bonjour and de Hart 2013, 2020; Gillies 2012, Horsti and Pellander 2015; Odasso 2021; Plummer 2010; Schrover 2009; Strasser et al. 2009; Van Walsum 2008). Research has made clear that norms and ideas about what constitutes a ‘proper’ family are closely related to discourses on normalcy and national belonging. The aim of this panel is to move the discussion on the relationship between “the state” and “the family” forward, by investigating how gender, race and class intersect when it comes to governing and administering families and what this implies for understanding the power relationships at play.

Exploring the ways in which states deal with families, parents and children is insightful, because it is through families that nation-states reproduce themselves “physically and culturally” (Moret et al., 2019, p. 7; Yuval‐Davis, 1997). The family forms a symbolic bridge between the state and the individual, as the place where future citizens are raised and where national culture is seen to be (re)produced (Strasser et al., 2009, p. 167). We may thus ask: how is the population governed and administered through the family (Donzelot and Hurley 1997)? And what power relationships and exclusion mechanisms become visible in these processes (Foucault, 1983; Welfens & Bonjour, 2021)?

Recent scholarship has underlined the role family norms play both in migration governance (Welfens & Bonjour, 2021) and social welfare (Bütow et al., 2014; Weber, 2015). It is specifically the intersectional dimension that we aim to address in this panel. We seek to explore how migrants, non-nationals, racialized and othered individuals are affected by and engage with family politics and policies. We invite abstracts for papers that discuss these questions in different research fields and at different levels of analysis. They may focus on migration regimes, welfare policies, and decisions on social assistance. This could be at a macro-level (e.g. bilateral / international / national legal and political frameworks) to micro-level (e.g. street-level bureaucracy, implementation guidelines). The papers may also focus on the role of schools, social workers or civil society actors in shaping and contesting family norms. Our aim is to critically question the concept of family as a construct and how it is (re)produced in these politics and policies, by a wide range of actors.

Abstracts may address questions such as (but are not limited to):

  • How are families constructed and imagined through these regimes? How are family norms defined, mobilized and negotiated in different fields?
  • How are families defined, categorized and addressed by family politics?
  • How are “proper” families created and reproduced through decisions on who gets to stay together, which children are placed in foster care and so on?
  • In what way are these family norms classed, ethnicized or racialized?
  • What does this tell us about power relationships?

Papers from various academic disciplines are welcome: migration studies, welfare or social studies, political science, and other social scientific disciplines.

If you would like to join this panel, please send a title, and abstract (max. 250 words) to mira.ducommununinech, no later than 29 November 2021. Please include your name and affiliation in the proposal.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Panel conveners

Mira Ducommun (University of Neuchâtel)
Eline Westra, Saskia Bonjour and Sonja Evaldsson Mellström (University of Amsterdam)


15. November 2021


29. November 2021