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Monstrous motherhood versus magical maternity?: an exploration of conflicting attitudes to maternity within health discourses and organizational settings

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal
Issue number7
Volume33
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)633-647
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to compare public health discourses on the importance of motherhood with organizational attitudes towards childbearing. It shows how pregnancy and the nurturing of infant children are valorized within public health discourses, which treat pregnancy and new maternity as a miraculous “project”, encouraging mothers to position maternity as central to their lives. By contrast, the paper shows how employers treat pregnancy and new motherhood as inconvenient and messy: as monstrous, at work.

Design/methodology/approach
– The paper draws upon a database of qualitative netnographic (or internet-based) research. It analyses netnographic interactions between pregnant and newly maternal women. These virtual data are afforded the same validity as face-to-face research.

Findings
– The paper demonstrates how maternal responsibilities for nurturing pregnancy and infant children, and the bio-medical properties of the maternal body, are central to public health discourses. By contrast, the maternal body is treated within organizations as alien, or monstrous.

Originality/value
– The paper compares and contrasts public health valorizations of motherhood, with organizational tendencies to treat pregnancy/newly maternal bodies as monstrous. It highlights dichotomies faced by employed mothers. A continuing chasm between the social organization of maternity, and the attitudes of employers towards children and maternal bodies, is identified.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here http://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/monstrous-motherhood-versus-magical-maternity(9c6c305f-3b8d-492c-ae12-80f39a06f89a).html Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.