Nobody’s Perfect: Making sense of a parenting skills workshop through ethnographic research in a low-income neighbourhood in Santiago de Chile

Marjorie Murray, Daniela Tapia - Critical Social Policy


Nadie es Perfecto (Nobody’s Perfect, or NEP) is a parenting skills workshop aimed at ‘sharing experiences and receiving guidance on everyday problems to strengthen child development’. This article explores this workshop in terms of its relationship with the daily lives of participants, based on one year of fieldwork focused on families with young children in a low-income neighbourhood in Santiago. While caregivers frame their parenting efforts as aiming to ‘hacer lo mejor posible’ (do their best) under difficult circumstances, our study found that facilitators take an anachronistic and homogenizing view of participants. Embracing a universalistic perspective of child development, they discourage participation and debate, focusing instead on providing concrete advice that limits the potential of the workshops. This article argues that by ignoring the different living situations of families in this socioeconomic context, NEP reproduces a prejudiced view of poor subjects that sees them as deficient and incapable of change.