The social organisation of motherhood : advice giving in maternity and child health care in Scotland and Finland
This study is a qualitative, cross-cultural research on advice giving for mothers in maternity and child health services in Scotland and Finland. It has been accomplished through local case studies using ethnographic methods. The main objective is to analyse how in these service systems motherhood, women's daily life, and their responsibilities for children's welfare and health are defined and organised, and how these definitions vary across social and cultural contexts. Methodologically, referring to the feminist methodology by Dorothy E. Smith, it is emphasised that beginning from the local and particular, from the everyday practices of health professionals, can provide more general understanding of the social relations that organise motherhood in the two societies. Empirical results of the study are presented under six substantial themes: The first theme discusses different professional groups as service providers and the relationships between them. Second theme concentrates on the clinic and the home as the physical settings of service provision and their professional and cultural meanings. Third section discusses the relationship and interaction between health professionals and their clients. Next two themes are related to the standards of motherhood: expectations for proper motherhood, child care, and family relations of the mothers. The last theme analyses possible conflicts between women's everyday experience and professional expertise in motherhood. The general conclusions drawn from the research suggest that motherhood is socially organised at four different but interrelated levels, named in this study as interactional level, institutional level, welfare state level, and socio-cultural leveL. Advice giving for mothers in maternity and child health care is related to family policy measures, social class and gender systems, historical and cultural tradition, customs, and ways of thinking in a certain society. This complexity underlines the relevance of qualitative approach in comparative research.