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Working-Class Mothers

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

There is no single accepted definition of working class: typically, it is defined in opposition to the middle class by characteristics such as employment in a trade or semi-skilled occupation and coming from a family where college was not an expectation for every child. For women, working-class occupations include low-level white collar jobs such as clerks and secretaries (because of the low wages and lack of autonomy), as well as “pink collar” occupations like cosmetology and blue-collar occupations such as factory work. Most working-class families have less income and social capital at their disposal than middle-class families.

Mothering is frequently framed in terms of a middle-class motherhood and lifestyle. A milestone text of North American feminism, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963) has been blamed for ...

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