Domesticating the ‘troubled family’: Racialised sexuality and the postcolonial governance of family life in the UK

This article examines how the UK’s Troubled Families Programme works as a strategy of domestication which produces and delimits certain forms of ‘family life’. Drawing upon critical geographies of home and empire, the article explores how the Troubled Families Programme works to manage the troubled family as part of a longer history of regulating unruly households in the name of national health and civilisation. Viewing the Troubled Families Programme as part of the production of heteronormative order highlights how the policy remobilises and reconfigures older forms of colonial rule which work to demarcate between civility/savagery, the developable/undevelopable. In examining the postcolonial dimension of neoliberal social policy, the article stresses how the Troubled Families Programme relies on racialising and sexualised logics of socio-biological control borrowed from imperial eugenics. Reading the Troubled Families Programme in this way contributes to our understanding of neoliberal rule. That the troubled family can be either domesticated or destroyed (through benefit sanctions and eviction) equally reveals the extent to which domesticity works as a key site for the production of both ‘worthy’ and ‘surplus’ life.

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Volume 35 Issue 5

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