Young mothers in late modernity: sacrifice, respectability and the transformative neo-liberal subject

Baker, Joanne (2009) Young mothers in late modernity: sacrifice, respectability and the transformative neo-liberal subject. Journal of Youth Studies, 12 (3). pp. 275-288.

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Abstract

In this paper, the experiences of young mothers are examined in the contemporary context of a heightened emphasis on individuated personhood and suggestions of a vastly changed modern femininity. Sociological preoccupation with the features of post-industrial society has emphasized the declining influence of preordained and institutionalized structures. The declining influence of such structures in turn ushers in new requirements for personal agency and decision-making. Under the influence of such posited de-traditionalization, the family is widely conceived to be constituted less through obligation and more through negotiation. Understandings of the regulatory dimensions of neo-liberalism and the post-feminist sensibility are drawn on to consider how young women are implicated in this landscape of de-traditionalization and individualism. This paper reports on Australian empirical research with young women who are mothers that reveals the continuation of supposedly outmoded but evidently enduring features of traditional motherhood. Significantly, though, these supposedly superseded gendered features of family life are now encountered amidst the requirements of reflexive modernity, and it is argued that they are responded to in ways that reflect transformations in the experience of the personal; particularly the construction of individualized biographies of reinvention through motherhood.

Item ID: 9388
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: femininity; attitudes; gender; parenthood; neo-liberalism
ISSN: 1469-9680
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2010 05:40
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169901 Gender Specific Studies @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940116 Social Class and Inequalities @ 50%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940113 Gender and Sexualities @ 50%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 9
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