• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Maternal Agency

  • By: D. Lynn O'Brien Hallstein
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Maternal agency is the notion that mothering can be a site of empowerment and a location for social change for women. Maternal agency draws on the idea of agency—the ability to influence one's life, to have the power to control one's life—and explores how women can have agency via mothering.

Feminist Theories of Maternal Agency

In theorizing maternal agency, feminist scholars focus on specific mothering practices that facilitate women's authority and power as they mother. In doing so, most feminist scholars, drawing on Adrienne Rich's work, also view maternal agency as a process of resistance to the dominate discourses of mothering, or what most feminist scholars call the institution of motherhood. Maternal agency, then, is revealed in mothers' efforts to challenge and act against the aspects ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles