Boundaries of Touch: Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy

Boundaries of Touch: Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy

ISBN-10:
0252075811
ISBN-13:
9780252075810
Pub. Date:
01/15/2009
Publisher:
University of Illinois Press

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Overview

Boundaries of Touch: Parenting and Adult-Child Intimacy

A history of the shifting and conflicting ideas about when, where, and how we should touch our children

Discussing issues of parent-child contact ranging from breastfeeding to sexual abuse, Jean O'Malley Halley traces the evolution of mainstream ideas about touching between adults and children over the course of the twentieth century in the United States. Debates over when a child should be weaned and whether to allow a child to sleep in the parent's bed reveal deep differences in conceptions of appropriate adult-child contact.

Boundaries of Touch shows how arguments about adult-child touch have been politicized, simplified, and bifurcated into "naturalist" and "behaviorist" viewpoints, thereby sharpening certain binary constructions such as mind/body and male/female. Halley discusses the gendering of ideas about touch that were advanced by influential social scientists and parenting experts including Benjamin Spock, Alfred C. Kinsey, and Luther Emmett Holt. She also explores how touch ideology fared within and against the post-World War II feminist movements, especially with respect to issues of breastfeeding and sleeping with a child versus using a crib.

In addition to contemporary periodicals and self-help books on child rearing, Halley uses information gathered from interviews she conducted with mothers ranging in age from twenty-eight to seventy-three. Throughout, she reveals how the parent-child relationship, far from being a private or benign subject, continues as a highly contested, politicized affair of keen public interest.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252075810
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 01/15/2009
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jean O'Malley Halley is an assistant professor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Wagner College in New York City and the assistant editor (with Patricia Ticineto Clough) of The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social. She is also the mother of two children.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

1 To Touch or Not to Touch 1

2 The Rise of the Expert, the Fall of the Mother 27

3 Breasts versus Bottles and the Sexual Mother 69

4 Babies in Bed: To Sleep or Not to Sleep (with Your Baby) 105

5 Violent Touch: Feminists, Conservatives, and Child Sexual Abuse 131

6 Touching Problems 151

Epilogue 167

Notes 169

References 187

Index 195

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