The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Portrait Lisa Eklund. Photo: Emma Lord.

Lisa Eklund

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Portrait Lisa Eklund. Photo: Emma Lord.

Gouverner en tant que pairs (governing as peers) : experts réticents et parents compétents au sein de l’État-providence suédois

Governing as peers : Reluctant experts and competent parents in the Swedish welfare state


  • Lisa Eklund
  • Åsa Lundqvist

Summary, in English

In recent years, parenting support has gained traction in the Swedish welfare state in both policy and practice. Parenting is seen as determining child outcomes and are thus in need of knowledge and expertise. Yet, at the same time, parents are conceptualised as experts of their own child. The intriguing paradox between parents being experts while at the same time being in need of parenting support is the topic of this article.
Based on interviews with parenting support actors, we identify that parenting support actors are “reluctant expert”, keen to respect the autonomy of parents and careful not to appear paternalistic. However, according to the parenting support actors interviewed in this study, suppressing the expert role can also be a strategy to attract more parents and to foster the self-realisation of the “competent parent”.
It is argued that the “reluctant expert” and the “competent parent” can only be understood if parenting support practices are viewed as a form of micro-technologies for governing parents within a neoliberal frame, emphasising indirect and horizontal steering of parenthood and families. We propose to conceptualise this as “governing as peers”. Typical for the neoliberal frame is also that both problems and solutions are identified at the individual and family level, rather than the structural level, which infers a responsibilisation of parents.


  • Sociology
  • Centre for Economic Demography
  • Department of Sociology

Publishing year







Lien social et Politiques



Document type

Journal article


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • Parenting support
  • Experts
  • Governmentality
  • Governing as peers
  • Sweden
  • Welfare State




  • The Politics of Parenting Support: Development, Forms and Agents


  • ISSN: 1703-9665