Discounting disadvantage: the influence of neo-liberalism on young mothers

Baker, Joanne (2005) Discounting disadvantage: the influence of neo-liberalism on young mothers. In: Papers from the CROCCS 2005 Conference. From: Challenging Practices: CROCCS 2005 Conference, 5-7 August 2005, Mackay, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

This paper is concerned with the support of young women who are mothering in difficult and disadvantaged circumstances. It will detail findings from my recent qualitative research about the combined influence of neo-liberal ideology and feminist achievements on the lives of young women and their implications for support of young mothers.

The widening of opportunities for some young women as a result of feminist gains and the changed social and economic conditions of late modernity have resulted in new concepts and images of female success and possibility. These are captured through the notion of girlpower and function as powerful ideals against which all young women may be judged and may judge themselves. It will also be argued that under the neo-liberal imperative for flexible subjects and individual responsibility, young women who experience unplanned pregnancy are compelled to demonstrate their resilience to adversity and their capacity for motherhood. Experiences of child abuse, rape, domestic violence, homelessness and drug and alcohol dependency were re-interpreted by young women as ultimately propitious because they had been able to overcome hardship and re-invent themselves. While such remaking seems to be a protective response, it is not one that fosters a sense of oppression or empathy for others who have not been able to similarly ‘triumph’. Conceptions of personal disadvantage were typically discounted, suggesting that young women are no longer entitled to acknowledge a sense of unfairness in a neo-liberal climate where every aspect of life has been refigured as the sole responsibility of the individual.

Item ID: 400
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Keywords: young mothers; Neo-liberalism; disadvantage; choice
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160799 Social Work not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940113 Gender and Sexualities @ 51%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940199 Community Service (excl. Work) not elsewhere classified @ 49%
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