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Perfect motherhood: Middle-class mothers in urban China
November 13, 2019 - 14:00-16:00
Lecture by Dr. Chen Meng, Assistant professor at Shanghai University.
Based on in-depth interviews with thirteen middle-class mothers in Shanghai, her paper explores the social construction of the ideal mother in metropolitan China. It reveals that middle-class women face the conflict between their own perception of the ideal status of being a mother and motherhood expected by the family and the society. Whereas the middle-class mothers are keen in seeking a delicate balance between childrearing and their own work and life, their perception of good motherhood is shaped both by gender division within family and the dominant motherhood ideology outside the family. While the middle-class mothers tend to be alert to the media discourse of ‘super-moms’, their self-assessment of whether they are good mothers reflects their deliberate reflection of motherhood and internalization of the dominant repertoire of motherhood. This paper reveals the emergence of ‘knowledge and emotion intensitve motherhood’ in urban China. Nevertheless, it is worth noting how women claim their autonomy in their practice of motherhood.
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