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Hays, Sharon

  • By: Petra Bueskens
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Sharon Hays is a sociologist whose research focuses on motherhood, gender relations, economic rationalism, individualism, welfare reform and, more recently, young collegiate women's sexuality. Since her first major academic work, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood (1996), Hays has demonstrated an interest in the conflicting ideologies of femininity and individualism; specifically, the opposition between self-sacrifice and self-interest. This contradiction is brought into sharp relief in the contemporary culture of motherhood, with its emphasis on loving devotion at the expense of women's individual gain.

Hays is interested in the problems she identifies as the unfinished business of feminism, including the unintended consequences of feminism's achievements. Hays examines how the new freedoms ushered in by second wave feminism have generated conflict and contestation at both the cultural and individual ...

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