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‘Neoliberal motherhood’: workplace lactation and changing conceptions of working motherhood in the contemporary US

Boyer, Kate ORCID: 2014. ‘Neoliberal motherhood’: workplace lactation and changing conceptions of working motherhood in the contemporary US. Feminist Theory 15 (3) , pp. 269-288. 10.1177/1464700114545321

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Through an analysis of policy texts, population statistics and a targeted sample from the popular press, this paper both furthers knowledge about changing meanings of working motherhood in the contemporary US, and proposes a refinement to existing conceptual work relating to how wage-work and care-work are combined. I focus analysis on recent US social policy which grants new rights and protections for women seeking to combine lactation and wage-work (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2011). I critique this policy through Bernise Hausman’s work on the politics of motherhood, arguing that it represents a form of work-life integration that is particularly burdensome for working mothers. I further argue that maternal practice as well as well as expectations of working motherhood in the contemporary US are being reshaped around the demands of neoliberalism, producing what I term ‘neoliberal motherhood’. I assert that this policy represents a way of combining wage-work and care-work that is not captured within existing feminist theory, and suggest that a re-working of theory in this area is needed in order to address cases in which embodied care-work is enfolded within the time and space of wage-work.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Institute of Society and Health (CISHE)
Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD)
Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Additional Information: pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher policy at [accessed 28/10/14]
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1464-7001
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 06:22

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