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An interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of parenthood and its various manifestations in contemporary society. It is divided into three sections dealing respectively with defining parenthood, new issues in contemporary parenting and parenting post-divorce. Each contributor addresses the central question, ""what is a parent?"", from the perspective of his or her own discipline, bringing together ideas about parents derived from law, sociology, psychology, biology and criminology.;Despite the familiar and apparently obvious answer to this question, the notion of ""parent"" emerges from the analysis as a contested concept. Parenting practices are by no means fixed, and ideologies which frame who parents are and what they do are subject to disruptions from several quarters. In short, the essays in this book show the ways in which ""parent"", like ""child"", is a term with a shifting meaning and ""parenthood"" refers to a fluid set of social practices which are historically and culturally situated.;The essays are the product of a series of seminars held at the University of Cambridge in 1998 under the auspices of the Cambridge Socio-Legal Group.