Selbstsorge als Selbstzweck?

Fabienne Décieux, Eva-Maria Schmidt, Ulrike Zartler

In this contribution, we examine the meaning attributed to self-care for mothers, and the forms of self-care that appear in collective discourses on good motherhood. As a result of neoliberal tendencies, structural carelessness is becoming evident, and crises are emerging in work and care arrangements. At the same time, self-care is becoming a duty, albeit lacking an adequate setting. This affects mothers who are regarded as primarily responsible for care in general, and are simultaneously confronted with the demands of the labor market. This tension makes maternal self-care a complex and potentially precarious endeavor. Currently, there is little empirical research on the meanings and forms of maternal self-care. We address this research gap on the basis of 24 gender-homogeneous and gender-heterogeneous group discussions (n = 173), conducted in various regions in Austria and analyzed by using reconstructive methods. The results show that self-care for mothers was constructed as a concession. Furthermore, two forms of maternal self-care were central in the discussions: first, self-care in the form of time to reproduce the caring self; second, self-care in the form of wage labor to secure a material livelihood. Both forms of self-care are precarious, as they are not conceded as an end in themselves. Rather, with the aim of providing optimal care for others and of unburdening the community, mothers are obliged to care for themselves. Self-care thus supports traditional gendered work and care arrangements, and consequently stabilizes the existing structural carelessness.

Institut für Soziologie, Projekt: Familienforschung in Österreich
Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie (ÖZS)
ÖFOS 2012
504011 Familienforschung
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Social Sciences(all)
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