Digital mothering: Sharenting, family selfies and online affective-discursive practices

Lazard, Lisa (2022). Digital mothering: Sharenting, family selfies and online affective-discursive practices. Feminism & Psychology (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/09593535221083840

Abstract

Posting about one’s children and family has become a routine practice for mothers on social media. The task of presenting oneself as a “good” mother is subject to the trouble of competing requirements around motherhood (e.g., neoliberal intensive mothering, feminine relationality) as well as family ideals which are unrealistic for many. These troubles are further complicated by sharenting discourses in which parental posting is seen as digital narcissism. This study examines mothers’ identity work in their talk about posting family photos to social media. Twenty mothers aged between 24 and 50 were interviewed using their family photo posts as interview stimulus. Using a feminist poststructuralist framework, the data were discursively analysed, paying attention to how identity trouble was produced and repaired in three constructions of mothers’ photo sharing which included: emotionally connected mothers; digitally relational mothers; and proud mothers. In these constructions, family photo posts were constituted as a selective process which performed relational work to rhetorically manage the networked audience by deflecting conflict. This included the digital repair of offline troubled identities to present oneself as “good” whilst avoiding class-based othering. How these findings offer a challenge to predominant problematisations of digital mothers is discussed.

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