Unpacking the power of the mommy wars

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Abstract

In recent years, Mommy Wars discourse, or an expressed judgment between mothers who work for pay and those who stay at home with their children, has emerged as a significant part of American culture. Yet knowledge about both its substantive underpinnings and the breadth of its influence across racial groups is limited. On these points, some research has suggested that racial differences regarding adherence to particular mothering ideologies will drive Mommy Wars discourse among white, middle-class mothers but not among African American, middle-class mothers. This study investigates 125 middle-class yet racially diverse mothers about the content and prevalence of Mommy Wars discourse among their peers. Contrary to expectations, Mommy Wars discourse, although based on strong beliefs regarding appropriate maternal practices, was limited in its scope. In addition, Mommy Wars discourse was a minority perspective among the peers of white, middle-class mothers, but a plurality perspective among the peers of African American, middle-class mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-238
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume85
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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