Motherhood is the focus of much public scrutiny, situated as it seems to be at the frontier of processes of social order and change. Much has been written about the difficulties of mothering in a context of ever-expanding expert advice, as well as apparently increasing expectations that the mother-child bond be cultivated through intensive care-giving.
This study returns to neglected sociological questions concerning the connections between agency and normative complexity, through the pragmatist interpretation it offers of the recognition dynamics shaping this deeply contested and emotionally fraught role.
Drawing on qualitative interviews with forty mostly middle-class mothers across the UK and US, this book offers a three-party typology of the coping strategies women adopt. The various combinations of expressivism, instrumentalism and pragmatism taken up by respondents as they go about asserting normative authority and seeking esteem for the competence and quality of their mothering, provides the focus of attention.