Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The good, the bad and the ‘good enough’ mother on the UK parenting forum Mumsnet

an article by Sarah Pedersen (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen UK) published in Women's Studies International Forum Volume 59 (November-December 2016)

  • An investigation of the concepts of the good and bad mother on the UK parenting website Mumsnet.
  • Argues that users of Mumsnet engage with, re-work and to a certain extent resist the good mother ideal.
  • While the Intensive Mothering ideal is most frequently discussed there is also reference to a more feminist model.
  • Users are aware of the changing nature of good mother ideals and the involvement of the media in their dissemination.

The article investigates the conceptualisation of the good and bad mother from the point of view of users of the UK parenting website Mumsnet, which offers the opportunity to assess the dominant ideologies of motherhood at play in contemporary middle-class British society.

The study uses Hays' (1998) discussion of the Intensive Mothering ideology and Johnston and Swanson's (2003) typology of contemporary mothering ideologies in analysing the mothers' discussions. It is argued that, on Mumsnet, mothers actively engage with, re-work and to a certain extent resist the good mother ideal.

It is also suggested that the users of Mumsnet are very conscious of the role that the media plays in the construction of the ideals of motherhood and are also aware of how such ideals might change through time. Anonymous forums such as Mumsnet can offer a space for the reality of the maternal experience to be articulated in resistance to the ideology of the good mother.

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