Racializing the "Social Development" State: Investing in Children in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Vivienne Elizabeth, Wendy Larner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the claim that the child is emerging as a key figure of social governance. International studies suggest that as liberal welfare states increasingly draw on social investment discourse, the child-025EFparticularly the child-as-worker-in-becoming-025EFhas emerged as an iconic figure. This has resulted in the child becoming the central subject of social policies and programs and the focus of new spending priorities. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, however, the figure of the child is much less prominent than elsewhere. Moreover, in the policies and programs of the New Zealand "social development" state, the child is often racialized by virtue of its location within specific family groupings and geographical communities. In turn, this has implications for the positioning of women. As we show, the child/mother who stands to benefit from the "investments" of social development in Aotearoa/New Zealand is actually more likely to be a P (A) over bar keh (A) over bar child/mother, whereas the child/mother requiring continued programmatic intervention is more likely to be M (A) over bar ori or Pacific. This finding points to the need for feminist scholars to examine further the complex interpenetration of gender and race/ethnicity in the shaping of contemporary socio-political landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-158
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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