Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Ideals and expectations : representations, practices and governance of contemporary motherhood
Authors: Close
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis is about contemporary mothering in the North East of England. It is informed by a feminist perspective and draws on the theoretical concepts of governmentality (Foucault, 1991), and distinction (Bourdieu, 1984) to explore how mothers’ everyday lives and practices are shaped by the discourse of ‘intensive mothering’. This, I argue has come to stand as a proxy for ‘good’ mothering, and is a child-centred approach that is costly in terms of time, money and emotion (Hays, 1996). Furthermore, I argue that it is an approach that entrenches class and gender relations. My first task was to consider the circulation of government messages that place mothers and mothering at the heart of an agenda to bring forth citizens ‘fit’ for a society that values self-responsibility, self-regulation, and entrepreneurialism. This, I suggest, sits comfortably within a belief that the United Kingdom is meritocratic, and that individual enterprise, such as hard-work, making the ‘right’ lifestyle choices, and taking responsibility for ourselves are guarantors of a good life. Mothers are explicitly addressed in government-led initiatives, healthcare, and child-rearing manuals to raise their children in particular ways. As I will show, the theories on which this advice is based, and the claims of evidence of the risks attached to not following it, are rarely questioned, and what follows familiar problems, are familiar solutions, even when there is scant evidence of their efficacy. My research is conducted using qualitative methods; it is based on the accounts of twenty-five women who have at least one child under the age of five. These mothers are busy. Their time, emotion and money are all focused on their children. They express ambivalence about the value of the advice they receive, frustration about how time-consuming mothering is, and anger at how judgemental it can be. At the same time, such ‘intensive mothering’ (Hays, 1996) is the benchmark against which they measure being a ‘good mother’. My analysis draws attention to the complexity of negotiating ways of knowing, doing and being a mother and the discourses of mothering that work on and through women. I discuss how mothers negotiate their identity as a ‘good mother’ through and against competing forms of knowledge.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Close J 2017.pdfThesis1.59 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
dspacelicence.pdfLicence43.82 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.