‘A little bit patronising if I’m being honest’: working-class mothering and expert discourses.

Green, Loretta 2024. ‘A little bit patronising if I’m being honest’: working-class mothering and expert discourses. PhD thesis University of Westminster Social Sciences https://doi.org/10.34737/w814z

Title‘A little bit patronising if I’m being honest’: working-class mothering and expert discourses.
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsGreen, Loretta
Abstract

Recent early years policy interventions have focussed on the Home Learning Environment. The ‘Home Learning Environment’ relates to the parenting children receive at home, rather than the physical environment in which they live, enabling a focus on individual behaviour. Family and parenting relations have been a target of state intervention for the last century, positioning working-class mothers as deficient and requiring correction. Little is known about how these discourses impact and shape working-class mothering. I explore how intensive parenting and attendant policy and dominant discourses impact on the day-to-day lives of working-class mothers. To do this, I draw on a critical discourse analysis of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People website to discern current ‘good’ mothering discourses being promoted and narrative analysis of twenty biographical interviews with working-class mothers. The interviews revealed a huge gulf between Tiny Happy People’s ‘good’ mother and the women’s lived realities. Absent and ignored were the significant material constraints faced by many of the women and the time burden created by the intensive mothering model being promoted. Working-class mothering values based on relationships and protecting their children from the effects of growing up working-class mean that Tiny Happy People’s good mothering ideals were mainly rejected as unnecessary or unrealistic by the women interviewed. Policy and other initiatives aimed at working-class people must acknowledge the reality of their lives and target improvements to inadequate housing provision and a labour market which creates low-paid, precarious employment; these initiatives would dramatically transform family life. This research provides the first academic analysis of the BBC’s Tiny Happy People. It highlights the gulf between those in positions of power (whether within government or the media) and the working-class women interviewed.

Year2024
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Project‘A little bit patronising if I’m being honest’: working-class mothering and expert discourses.
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Published13 Oct 2023
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/w814z

Related outputs

Tiny Happy People? Brain-building and the 'word gap'
Green, L. 2023. Tiny Happy People? Brain-building and the 'word gap'. Families, Relationships and Societies. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1332/204674322X16690225350137

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