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Like a Mother: Paid “Mother-work” Performed in Private Spaces

  • Amy Mullin

Abstract

Some forms of paid child care, particularly those involving family daycare workers, foster parents, and nannies, are often conceived of by employers and providers alike as “mother-like.” In this chapter, I analyze associations between mothering and some forms of paid child care. I discuss how expectations that care be mother-like impact on employers, child care providers, and children, and examine what they reveal about associations between mother-work1 in general, whether paid, partially paid, or unpaid,2 and privacy of various kinds, including private domestic spaces. Since government subsidies for child care are woefully inadequate, in most cases the parents who choose paid child care are middle-class. I limit my claims to mother-work performed in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Keywords

Child Care Foster Parent Domestic Worker Emotional Labor Private Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    I use the term “mother-work” to acknowledge societal expectations that mothers perform the bulk of child care and the reality that women do so. This is similar to Sara Ruddick and Virginia Held who speak about the work of maternal thinkers and mothering persons, respectively, while acknowledging that male parents can and should do this work, and that it can be performed by people outside of the family as well. Sara Ruddick, “Maternal Thinking,” in Mothering: Essays in Feminist Theory, ed. Joyce Trebilcot (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983), 225;Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Sarah Hardy and Caroline Wiedmer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Mullin

There are no affiliations available

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