LECTURE#8: Manufacturing Motherhood: Combining Motherhood and Paid
1. Conceptualizations—the Family; Intensive Mothering, Sex/Gender Roles
2. Socio-Demographic Shifts and Ideological Shifts—The Rise of Dual Earners and the
Construction of Mother-as-sacred
3. Working Mothers and the Opt Out Revolution
4. Considering Alternative Caregivers—Shadow Motherhood
Conceptualizing the Family
-sociology of the family. Unit changed.
a). functionalist perspective—differentiated sex roles functionally necessary for society
b). feminist perspective—social reproduction and power inequalities
c). intersectional perspectives—gender, class, and race/ethnicity combine to differentially
disadvantage particular women within families. The ‘Family’ is not homogenous.
-see the family as the heart of society. Society is a human body (organic perspective).
• System approach
• System is a whole. Family is heart of human body. Without it, breaks down. Other
parts are important i.e. pumping to the heart.
• Social control underpinnings
• There are parts to the system that keep the whole functioning
View of the Family:
1. Nuclear family is universal – the NUCLEAR family is so useful to society that it is inevitable
and it is universal. It is most functional form. Anthropological research on 200 societies.
2. provides essential functions
Sexual – controls sexuality, provides stability for adults
-know that they hae 2 kids, self-sustaining, no others are involved. Based on
monogamy. It is a policing function in society, stability.
Reproductive – provides new members of society.
-can raise kids in stable household with dad and mom.
Economic – family provides for its members.
-provides more efficiently and effective for household members. Resources
are staying in house
Educational – family socialises the young into societies norms and values.
- family socialized the young.
Parsons, sociologist 1902-79–Basic Functions of the Family: 2 functions
1. Purpose of Family = socialization
2. Socialization requires differentiated sex roles
Types of Socialization:
• Primary socialization: socialization of young kids to behave our society expects.
• The stabilisation of adult personalities: gives adults emotional support
• Essential to family as a whole, need them to learn the rules to enter society
and it’s all going to function. Everything is connected.
Differentiated sex roles: needed for raising family and function.
1 • Instrumental-role of the father to connect the family to outer society via his
• To connect family to other institutions in society. Dad goes to work,
connecting ad to workplace and other people
• Expressive-mother teaches children appropriate sex-role behaviours in the
home so later on contribute to society
Gender Ideologies built into Functionalism:
-ideology is important to functionalism and nuclear family, heterosexuality -only way.
1. Sexual reproduction requires a heterosexual union (nuclear family form is the only
family form that is functional)
Any other family form is dysfunction. There is a harmony, can’t deviate. Causing a problem, the
pieces don’t connect and society is in disarray.
2. Essentialist ideas of gender and socialization
Because women reproduce, they are closer with children, and therefore naturally suited
for expressive roles.
-Biological essentialism: women are more naturally suited for expressive
role. Women are more superior. Men are better suited for external role.
-what would they say about working women: socialization relies on
creation of different sex roles – it destabilizes the family. Expressive role is
-seen more in US – need to return to family values and need to control kids
– women need to be in the home. Kids are fat and violent because mom
In turn, men are naturally better suited for the working role
3. Functionalist view of working mothers: increasing numbers of working wives and
mothers has destabilized the family—it can’t function properly.
Critique of Functionalism *******TEST******
1. passive model of socialization
-children are an identity that is acted upon. We imprint gender as if it is not
reciprocal process. Socialization is more about negotiating. Adolescents really negotiate this
process. Agency involved.
2. unitary character of society--no classes, regions, religions, ethnicities, ages,
communities, in this analysis
-we don’t’ have any classes, race ethnicities, we don’t have age, we don’t have
communities. WE just have the family. We don’t know the other processes because they are
not included in analysis.
3. static approach—lacks the conceptual tools to address potentiality for change
-It is ahistorical – because it has unitary idea – doesn’t have aspects – it is
unchanging entity – doesn’t change over time. It ignores all other things changing.
4. oversimplification of sex roles --why can’t an individual perform both roles?
-It is ciclycal and it is functional, goes in a circle – doesn’t get in complexity of family
5. overly optimistic
-ignores conflict in family. It all has to function.
Feminist Perspectives of the Family
-influx of women into social sciences – 60s wouldn’t exist. They are worthy of study. Need to
challenge inequality. Critical of family on the lives of women.
-Marx Fem: family
1)exploits women for the needs of capitalism – social reproduction, women’s unpaid work ,
made invisible, seen as unskilled. ,
2)has policing functions. To control behaviour. Responsibility is placed on men. Men are less
likely to want to strike – they have mouths to feed.
2 Family Obfuscates Capitalist Exploitation:
1. family responsibilities make male workers less likely to strike
2. emotional support in family stabilises male workers
-Distorots ideas of inquality – mess less likely to take out frustrations in work
force and are taken home and delt in family.
3. The family values and teaches obedience - children learn to accept hierarchy
and their position within it.
Patriarchy Reinforced via the Family:
• patriarchy is established and reinforced in family relationships - “the personal is
• Men as household is mirror of Society – male’s dominance.
• Personal is the Political****TEST*** need to be more critical of whats going on in
family, unit of analysis, not sacred and untouchable ad personal. It does need to be
• Feminists argue that men benefit from families at the expense of women - both in
their personal experience and broadly because the family sustains patriarchy in
Feminist Perspectives on the Family
Feminist Critique of Functionalism:
1. challenge the superiority of the nuclear family as the ideal family form
Nuclear construct – separate spheres ideology – opposites. This is an ideology and isn’t an
empirical necessity. Need to look at social construction and how identity is constructed. It is not
natural and due to biology like functionalists believe.
2. Reveal exploitation of women in families
Family as ideology and social arrangement
-Family is both an ideology and a social arrangement – they do not need to map
on each other. Working mothers is also an ideology they are not the same thing
Separation of spheres – compartmentalization of “roles” is problematic – like ACKER argues –
gender permeates all social structures – not just a role but it is embedded in all institutions.
-CRIT of FEM: if everything is gender – everything looks different – how is it the
same, also gender mig ht not be as salient in other workplaces. How do we
measure it? ALSO: it portrays family more unequal than it is – family ID is very
important to people so they are missing the positives by focusing on the
CRIT of FUN: compartmentalization – gender is more pervasive than functionalism has us believe
3. ignores inequities in housework and childcare – things are unequal and it is mirrored in
Intersectional Perspectives of the Family
-2 social statuses that combine in society i.e. gender and race. How does age effect social
outcomes for specific groups.
Problematizes Constructions of Mothering:
• class biased and racially biased
mothering occurs within specific social contexts – it is socially constructed but these social
construction vary greatly in terms of culture and material resources and constraints. It varies with
ethnic group, religion etc. It really shapes families and what mothers mean.
• Focus on biological motherhood ignores intergenerational and communal mothering
E.g., African American shared mothering practices
E.g., domestic workers who are usually mothers and must neglect their children to take
care of other peoples families
• OPPOSITE OF FUNCTION: totally not biological – it is context-specific. It
is meaning driven, not biological process.
• Biological reductionism: doing gender
3 • Motherhood – static, unitary, doesn’t change.
• ******Motherhood and mother comes out of white middle class experience
as yard stick. There is class bias – what it is supposed to look like.
• Challenge FEM: because FEM is out of white middle class experience. WE
need to face empirical reality. Fem problematized bio but then their whole
idea of mothering itself is class and race biased. It decentres white middle
class experience – it is more complex. There are other experiences.
• Motherhood is not just as a gender construct – but it is racialized – i.e.
different aspects of caring is distributed among different groups i.e.
domestic workers – have to take themselves out of their own home and
mothering and then mothering other womens children. There are other
things like race, class citizenship.
Intersectional Perspectives of the Family
Recommend we deconstruct mother ideologies by:
1. deconstruct definitions associated with mother as a master definition
-mothers are epitimy of doing femininity. Assumes all sorts of things about doing gender
the best – it equates being a woman=mother. Denies men from being able to nurture
2. Be critical of dichotomies—the construction of mother/father is based on the
feminine/masculine dichotomy, where the latter is also seen as superior
– they are opposite – as soon as we have mother we have fathers on the other side. Hard
t marry the two – moms working and men nurturing. By creating this language of
difference we socially construct different arrangements in family.
3. Recognize Intersections– and expose class and racial/ethnic biases
-idea of motherhood comes out of WMC – most other women can’t afford to have this
ideology. They cannot split the spheres – their moms had to work in factories. Need to
see how those mothers care for their families. Class really shapes on resources you can
Historical Roots: social construct
• 18 century-- childrearing was not a discrete activity to be carried out solely by
• It was not solely carried out by mothers. Idea of kids as little people that need to be
moulded into healthy people came out based on:1-3
• rise of language and ideology associated with motherhood.
• 19 century--manufacturing mothers--child development become the responsibility
of the mother – hierarchy of needs, child development, psychology didn’t come before 19 th
century. Idea of what child needs to develop comlex behaviour and personality, motherhood
also didn’t exist.
Significant Historical Transitions:
1. decline of domestic production
-Colonial Times: subsistence living – wasn’t surplus of stuff. Father had a trade. Less
complex social system
-Colonial period to pre Industrilization: Kids would learn skills of father. More
hands = more stuff gets done.
-1785-1820: Rise of Industrilization: factories