The Making of Modern Motherhood: Ideologies and practices of ‘Good’ Motherhood From The
1800s To The Present
1) Mothering Versus Motherhood
2) The invention of Motherhood: From Agriculture to Urbanization
3) WW2 and Beyond: The Privatization of Motherhood as Full-Time Mothering
4) 1990s and Beyond: Intensive Mothering: Emerging from Neo-Liberalism and as a
Backlash to Feminism
Dr. Andrea O’Reilly
Professor, School of Women’s Studies,
Director, Motherhood Initiative.
• A mother’s first priority should be her children
• Mothers are a child’s first teachers
• Mothers in the media are portrayed as heterosexual, married, white, without disability
(able-bodied) and urban, middleclass.
• A good mother isn’t too young or too old (28-35)
• Rich called motherhood an institution. She thinks motherhood is oppressive to women
because it causes them to be selfless, etc.
• However she thinks mothering can be changed
• Mothering means raising children. Motherhood is the institution that tells them how to do
• Motherhood as a cultural institution that is oppressive has changed throughout history, it
is continually redefined.
• Motherhood (institution) is redefined or transformed as a response of significant
economic, social, cultural, change upheaval.
o The industrial revolution changes motherhood (18 century)
Mothers didn’t waste their time on children
She would be harvesting vegetables, making clothes, cooking, gardens,
looking after livestock, etc.
This work wasn’t paid work. She would probably have 8-14 children and a large number of them