University of Cambridge > > Centre for Family Research Seminar Series > Intensive Parenting Alone: Negotiating the Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood as a Single Mother by Choice

Intensive Parenting Alone: Negotiating the Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood as a Single Mother by Choice

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In her book, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood (1998), sociologist Sharon Haysargues that working mothers in United States are faced with the challenge of being nurturing and unselfish while engaged in child rearing at home, and being competitive and ambitious at work. Hays maintains that the ideology of “intensive mothering” exacerbates this tension. Working mothers in the 1990s face the challenge of being both nurturing and unselfish at home while engaged in child rearing, and competitive and ambitious at work. This text argues that an ideology of “intensive mothering” has developed that only exacerbates the tension working mothers face. Communication scholars, Annis Golden and Cheryl Geisler (2006, 2007) also address the tension between work and family life and the “ideological dilemma” that flexible work arrangements pose for American knowledge workers (regardless of their gender). In this paper I use a case study approach to further explore these and other cultural contradictions. Drawing on structured interviews, participant observation, and an activity analysis of one week of digital personal records (phone and email logs, daily planner, electronic bill pay, and time/dated photographs), I describe how one American knowledge worker practically and discursively manages the demands of intensive parenting as an intentionally single mother.

In prep: What’s new about ‘parenting’? Comparative studies in kinship, self and politics. Charlotte Faircloth, Diane Hoffman and Linda Layne, eds.

This talk is part of the Centre for Family Research Seminar Series series.

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