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Intensive Mothering

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

Intensive mothering is fundamental to societies in which a patriarchal ideology of motherhood is dominant. According to Sharon Hays, who coined the term in her influential 1996 book The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood, intensive mothering began in the 1980s with the purpose of re-domesticating women through motherhood at a time when more women in North America were becoming educated and entering the labor force. Intensive mothering developed alongside the inundation of media with maternal advice, programming and marketing, and as motherhood became one of the biggest media preoccupations from the mid-1980s to the first decade of the 21st century. As such, intensive mothering is viewed by much of the mainstream as the most appropriate model for good mothering.

Intensive mothering rests on at least four core ...

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