This article examines the development of the 'troubled families' narrative that emerged following the riots in England in 2011, drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant. Their work is briefly discussed before the current concern about 'troubled families' is located in its wider historical and political context. The response to the riots and the emergence and development of the official concept of 'troubled families' is then examined. It is argued that the establishment and subsequent expansion of the Troubled Families programme was part of a wider process of neoliberal state-crafting that was undertaken by the coalition government, and which is likely to be continued under the new Conservative administration in the United Kingdom (UK). The article pays particular attention to the centrality of 'the family' in this neoliberal restructuring and adds to the emerging literature on neoliberal forms of governing families in the UK at the current time.