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"I don't know what I'd do without our Mam" Motherhood, identity and support networks

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Publication details

JournalThe Sociological Review
DatePublished - 9 May 2006
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-22.
Original languageEnglish


This paper explores the role and importance of kinship within the lives of 14 working class women as they seek to make sense of motherhood and their own self-identity as a young mother. Within late modernity, numerous discourses suggest that kin networks and the role and importance of kinship are in decline as 'the family' changes and adapts. Indeed, the idea of extended family support and networking is frequently viewed as a historically cozy image rather than an everyday reality as we enter the twenty-first century. However, this paper demonstrates that the situation is far from straightforward. The young mothers' discourses and everyday experiences remain firmly grounded in relations of class, gender and the locality within which they live. Hence, although many of the young women are increasingly individualised, self-reflexive actors seeking to make sense of intimate relations and kinship in an ontologically insecure world, kin networks, especially female kinship continue to play a pivotal role in their lives—practically, socially and emotionally. Indeed, female kinship is closely interwoven with their self-identity as a caring and capable mother.

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