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Mothering versus Motherhood

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

Maternal scholars in the growing field of motherhood studies argue that there is a complex relationship between mothering and motherhood. While mothering and motherhood are clearly interconnected, there is also a clear distinction between the two concepts and practices.

Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born

This argument is largely based on the theorizing of American feminist Adrienne Rich in her influential 1977 book Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, where she examines maternal experiences of parenting and how a male-defined, patriarchal institution of motherhood influences women's experiences of mothering: “Throughout this book I try to distinguish between two meanings of motherhood, one superimposed on the other: the potential relationship of any woman to her powers of reproduction and to children; and the institution, which aims at ...

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