Making Modern Mothers

Thomson, Rachel; Kehily, Mary Jane; Hadfield, Lucy and Sharpe, Sue (2011). Making Modern Mothers. Bristol: Policy Press.

Abstract

Becoming a mother has always been a profound moment of personal change which ties women to the past, the future and each other. Yet what it means to be a mother is changing and shape shifting in line with women’s increased participation in work and education. The general trend is towards later motherhood, delaying the birth of a first child until higher education is completed and the career is well established. Emotional stability, financial security and the ‘right’ relationship are expected to fall in line with this life trajectory, making birth the apex of achievement for grown-up girls living the success story narrative of contemporary times. Yet for some young women first pregnancy comes early. Marked by disaffection from education, lack of opportunity and poor socio-economic circumstances, young motherhood may be the first act of adulthood rather than the highly prized goal of deferred gratification. In the light of these differences The Making of Modern Motherhood team posed that crucial question: is motherhood becoming the site of a new social division between women?

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