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Children, parents and non-parents: to whom does ‘the future’ belong?

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Narratives of ‘the future’ shape action, and the idea that certain members of society have more of a claim to ‘the future’ than others has received explicit articulation from academics, political commentators and journalists. Children are often viewed as the embodiment of ‘the future’, with parents positioned as having unique stakes in ‘the future’, particularly in comparison to non-parents. Asserting one agent’s rights to ‘the future’ inevitably undercuts another’s, and marginalised groups may be held responsible for the state of ‘the future’ but rendered unable to speak about it. In contrast, we argue that ‘the future’ is not the private possession of exclusionary subject positions or reductive political imaginaries which reduce the possible to a continuation of capitalist ethno-nations. Instead, we propose to understand futures as a collective intergenerational endeavour involving critical reflection on the present in order to challenge injustices in the present and enact evaluable changes. Doing so requires nothing short of a radical reimagining and remaking of childhood, (non)parenthood and adult‐child relations.
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Keywords: (non)parenthood; childhood; ethno-nation; financialised capitalism; utopian theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College London (UCL) Institute of Education, UK

Publication date: March 2020

This article was made available online on September 4, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Children, parents and non-parents: to whom does ‘the future’ belong?".

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