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Mothers and Their Children
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Mothers and Their Children
A Feminist Sociology of Childrearing



December 1994 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This volume presents a fresh approach to the analysis of childrearing. By focusing on mothers' own understandings of their childrearing, the author reveals how differences in childrearing are rooted in fundamental ideas about the nature of social life and the place of the individual and the family within it.

Broad cultural concepts of family, individuality and the nature of childhood are discussed. The author analyzes the implications of mothers' ideas about these for key childrearing preoccupations of time, discipline and the independence of children. An important theme that emerges is the diversity behind the image of the 'ordinary family'. Drawing on empirical evidence of mothers' concerns and understandings of childrearing, the author illustrates how issues of power and the public/private divide are negotiated in the daily lives of mothers and their children.

 
Introduction
 
PART ONE: CHILDREARING IN CONTEXT
 
Childrearing, Psychology and Sociology
 
The Feminist Study of Childrearing
 
Individuals, Families and Children
 
Friends and Relations
 
PART TWO: PORTRAITS OF CHILDREARING IN FOUR MIDDLE INCOME HOUSEHOLDS
 
Introduction to the Portraits
 
Fitting Children into Adult Frameworks
 
Fitting in around the Children
 
Overview of the Portraits
 
PART THREE: DEVELOPING THE PICTURES
 
Conceptions of Children
 
Childrearing Philosophies in Action
 
Sociology and Childrearing Reconsidered
 
Appendix: Further Details of the Sample

`A welcome addition to the growing number of studies of what motherhood entails.... Ribbens raises a number of interesting hypotheses, such as, that women identifying with their fathers may question their approaches to childrearing more than women who identified with their mothers. She also suggests areas for futher research, such as re-assessing the concept of power with reference to parent/child relationships within private settings.... This is a thought-provoking book, the result of much painstaking research. It is well written, in an interesting, accessible style and contains a good bibliography. It will be welcomed by everyone with an interest in motherhood and women's issues generally' - Women's Studies Network (UK) Association Newsletter

`Jane Ribbens leaves you with no choice, in this thoughtful and provocative book, but to re-evaluate your understanding of maternal caregiving. She makes a compelling case that our understanding of mothering must be re-examined due to long-standing biases in our theoretical suppositions and research procedures.... this volume clearly contributes to our understanding of motherhood.... Ribbens succeeds in opening our minds to new and different ways of thinking about old problems. She offers important insights about how to study mothering in ways that allow the voices of family members to be heard' - Journal of Marriage and the Family

`An interesting, well-referenced book' - Adoption UK

`There is no doubt that Jane Ribbens raises important theoretical issues that should be considered by those working for a sociology of childbearing' - Choice

`Makes an impassioned and persuasive case for the recognition of how the early and diverse social experience we obtain in our families affects our most basic understandings of society and individuality, our valuation of the claims of each, and our later social actions as adults.... important and theoretically provocative.... [Ribbens's] ideas are ambitious and adventurous enough to fill a dozen books.... Her approach is both feminist and ethnographic.... Malestream social scientists should read this excellent and innovatory book to see how these charges may be answered' - The Sociological Review

`Ribbens's style throughout the book is engaging and thought-provoking. The text is constantly enlivened by the generous use of quotes. The use of family ecograms vividly illustrates the centrality of family life to this sample' - Family Medicine

`Jane Ribbens takes a challenging stand against the invisibility of women and families within the fiel of sociology and is determined to prepare the ground for a change in direction. She gives an impassioned account of how expert theories of childrearing can be a source of oppression to women and demonstrates how little these theories have incorporated an analysis of context.... The book contains a useful discussion of issues in qualitative research, including how to attend to the relationship between researcher and the researched, issues of analysis and how to facilitate the voice of the researched subject. Ribbens, like many feminist researchers, takes her analysed accounts back to the women for comment.... The theoretical issues with which Ribbens engages about the private/public domain are also fascinating for family therapists, as we work at this interface. We work with what is private for families, but the very act of their talking with us brings it into the public domain. This tension has not been sufficiently unpacked or explored within family therapy, and it is useful to have it addressed here' - Journal of the Association for Family Therapy

`I feel Ribbens has developed a refreshing way to conceptualize multiple and varying childrearing perspectives, drawing together how negotiated boundaries interact with women's own notions and experiences, offering a framework for theorizing how mothers understand childrearing across various shifting and multiple places in their lives. This book will be of great interest to students of the social sciences, women's studies and possibly professionals working with the family as it gives insight to how mothers themselves view their own childrearing, while providing a useful theoretical framework for studying motherhood and the family across various contexts and over time. Alongside the development of cultural themes of "the child", "the family", and "the individual", the feminist sociology offered by Ribbens may be fruitful for understanding how women negotiate and construct their childrearing perspectives and practise when interacting with various people both within professional (teachers, carers, health visitors, etc) and social networks (friendship, grandparents, etc), and vice versa. Ribbens, in my opinion, is right in her calls for the development of these cultural themes, that, I feel, may include the study of how traditional developmental theory has historical and social input into the implicit and/or explicit, childrearing perspectives and practices of both women and the family and those who interact with the family outside/inside the home' - Feminism & Psychology

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ISBN: 9780803988347
£125.00