Becoming a mother through culture

Urwin, Cathy; Hauge, Mona Iren; Hollway, Wendy and Haavind, Hanne (2012). Becoming a mother through culture. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(6) pp. 470–479.



‘Culture’ is often considered in terms of identifiable artefacts, rules and practices, with less attention given to how investment in these features comes about. Using data extracts from a case study of a young woman who is becoming a mother for the first time, we pay attention to how people react to cultural processes in terms of how they ‘feel’. We use our own affective and reflective responses to interviews and observational material about Azra’s experiences with feeding her baby within the context of her extended family of Bangladeshi descent in a contemporary East London setting. Drawing on Bakhtin’s concept of ‘voice’ and Bion’s theory of thinking as an emergent phenomenon necessitated by the pressure of emotional experience, we trace how her own wishes became more articulated and were given precedence among the diverse voices of others about how to feed her baby son. We suggest an account of personal agency in which a dynamic, processual subjectivity will draw on as well as transform the web of relationships that a culture has to offer.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions