Watching as an ordinary affect: Care and mothers' preemption of injury in child supervision

Subjectivity. 2014 Jul 1;7(2):171-189. doi: 10.1057/sub.2014.2.


As unintentional injuries continue to be the leading cause of hospitalization and death for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4, the Centers for Disease Control has argued that child supervision is a key factor in reducing these injuries and fatalities. This article focuses on the affective relationships in the concept of supervision and practice of watching as an injury prevention method. Three parts frame our argument. First, we describe how watching is an ordinary affect. Second, as part of the ethos of caring, watching is embedded in a temporal frame of anticipation and gives rise to an affectsphere of watching and to a parents' subjectivity as 'good' or 'bad' supervisors. Third, these affective relationships generate seemingly contradictory outcomes wherein children are expected to gain independence and experience injury. The affective qualities of watching provide a critique of the individualizing forces of supervision and an analysis of subjectivities generated by gender and class.

Keywords: affect; childcare; mothers; supervision; unintentional injury.