Staying at Home or Working for Pay? Attachment to Modern Mothering Identities

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In a context where the pressures of intensive mothering are all-consuming, mothers who work for pay, or mother-workers, face difficult challenges as they attempt to execute the tasks of both parenthood and employment in effective ways. In contrast, stay-at-home mothers, or mother-caregivers, receive reinforcing messages from intensive mothering ideology that they should remain solely focused on meeting their children's everyday needs. Using random sample survey data collected from 3,327 women in mothers' organizations, I find that while only 18.5% of all mothers have such beliefs regarding whether working for pay is best for children or not, no single mothering identity (mother-worker or mother-caregiver) had a statistically significant relationship with holding such beliefs. However, among the small set of women expressing such beliefs on the value of maternal employment, full-time mother-workers were less likely than mother-caregivers to be able to align their current employment statuses with their preferred paid work preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-135
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Spectrum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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