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Title: Doing/narrating motherhood : the gendered and classed moralities of younger and older mothers
Author: Perrier, Maud
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 2248
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2009
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This feminist study of younger and older mothers in the UK analyses the way both groups present and practice moral selves in the context of dominant discourses of good motherhood. Qualitative data were generated during a year of fieldwork, involving repeated in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observation, with mothers who had their first child when particularly younger or older than average. This methodology allowed me to investigate how the mothers present their moral selves through personal accounts and good mothering practices, as well as how they negotiate discourses of a ‘right’ time for motherhood. The overall contribution of the thesis lies in developing a feminist critique of intensive mothering which also recognizes the significance of mothering as a key site for the construction of gendered and classed moral selves. My thesis demonstrates that the categories of age, social class and gender intersect to powerfully shape mothers’ constructions and performances of their moral maternal selves. For example, I argue that the normalization of the child-focused mother gives the older mothers, all middle-class, greater scope to achieve moral superiority than the younger mothers, almost all working-class. Indeed, throughout the thesis my analysis points to the ways in which mothers engage in practices of ‘othering’ to claim good motherhood. The thesis also develops a multi-dimensional conceptualization of time, which allows me to convey the complex connections between biological, social, biographical and generational times in mothers’ accounts. I conclude by suggesting that the moral script of ‘child’s needs first’ needs to be contested for new alternative meanings of good mothering to emerge which go beyond the autonomy-dependency model.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman