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

af Rachel Rosen | jul 2020 | Article

Rachel Rosen and Judith Suissa (2020) Children, parents and non-parents: to whom does ‘the future’ belong? Families, Relationships and Societies 9(1): 125-141

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 ethnonations. 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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