What makes a good mother? Two decades of research reflecting social norms of motherhood

Author(s)
Eva-Maria Schmidt, Fabienne Décieux, Ulrike Zartler, Christine Schnor
Abstract

Over the past two decades, scholars have investigated a
multitude of different aspects of motherhood. This article
provides a scoping review of research published from 2001
to 2021, covering 115 Social Science Citation Indexreferenced papers from WEIRD countries, with the aim of
reconstructing social norms around motherhood and
mothers’ responses to them. The analysis is theoretically
based on normological and praxeological concepts. The
findings reveal five contemporary norms of motherhood
that reflect both stability and increasing differentiation,
and are related to five types of mothers: the norms of being
attentive to the child (present mother), of securing the child’s successful development (future-oriented mother), of
integrating employment into mothering (working mother),
of being in control (public mother), and of being contented
(happy mother). Relying on an intersectional lens, we analyze mothers’ heterogeneous responses to these norms of
motherhood, and examine how neoliberal demands build
on and perpetuate inequalities.

Organisation(s)
Department of Sociology, Project: Family Studies in Austria
External organisation(s)
Université catholique de Louvain
Journal
Journal of Family Theory & Review
Volume
15
Pages
57-77
No. of pages
21
ISSN
1756-2570
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12488
Publication date
11-2022
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
504011 Genealogy
Keywords
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Health(social science), Social Psychology, Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/what-makes-a-good-mother-two-decades-of-research-reflecting-social-norms-of-motherhood(730143a1-8c1e-405c-9016-65f4cf05444f).html