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Department of Political Science


Liberal-democratic states’ commitments to equality and personal autonomy have always proven problematic with respect to state regulation of relations between parents and children. In the parental authority literature positions have varied from invoking children’s interests to argue for limitations on parental efforts to instill identities and values to invoking parental rights to justify state privileging of such efforts.

This article argues that liberal-democratic states should privilege parental efforts to raise their children to share their identities and values. Its approach is distinctive in two ways: i) it engages in interdisciplinary reflection upon selected findings in psychological literature on immigrant youth, acculturation, and identity development to assess philosophical arguments about parental authority; and ii) it argues that children’s, and not parental, interests should be viewed as the primary basis for parental rights to instill identities and values. Ultimately, the article argues, parental authority to instill identities and values is justified by children’s interests in psychological wellbeing and personal autonomy.


(This is Version 2 of the manuscript (original submission to the journal with my revisions after peer review. Version 3 of the manuscript (copy-edited, typeset final published version) appears as Andrew M. Robinson, Liberal-Democratic States Should Privilege Parental Efforts to Instil Identities and Values, Theory and Research in Education 15(2) (July 2017): 145-164. Copyright © 2017 Andrew M. Robinson. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.