Transformative Power in Motherwork: A Study of Mothering in the 1950s and 1960s

Porter, Marie (2006). Transformative Power in Motherwork: A Study of Mothering in the 1950s and 1960s PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Porter, Marie
Thesis Title Transformative Power in Motherwork: A Study of Mothering in the 1950s and 1960s
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 271
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subjects L
370104 Urban Sociology and Community Studies
440207 Religion and Society
Abstract/Summary In this thesis I explore the experiences of a group of Australian women who became first-time mothers between 1950 and 1965. I interviewed twenty-four mothers, half of whom were selected as practising Roman Catholics. The other half was AnglicanfProtestant by co-incidence rather than selection. The data in this research have been collected via in-depth, unstructured interviews with the participants. The interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim, before the data were analysed. I present a grounded theory of transformative power in motherwork that has emerged from the analysis of interviews. The mothers talked about what they did in their active mothering years. I argue that despite being constrained by the gender bias in the patriarchal context, these mothers were agents who developed skills that enabled them to resist or creatively deal with the constraints they faced. Their emphasis was on their agency and the power to nurture their children into responsible adults. Their awareness of the importance of their motherwork acted as a motivator in this development. My thesis is that the relationship between each mother and each of her children is a transformative power relationship in which both mother and child are transformedthe child into an independent adult and the mother into a skilled self-motivated agent through her mothenvork. Any threat to this process resulted in the mother doing all she could to resist or counteract the constraintls she was encountering. Transformative power expressed in motherwork can be recognised analytically by several characteristics. It empowers both parties in the motherlchild duality. Complexity, diversity, fluidity, and responsiveness to the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of the relationship are all evident in transformative power relationships. Through their own transformation, the mothers saw the falsity of the master narratives of motherhood, prevalent in society in the 1950s and 1960s, which they had believed as inexperienced girls. From their stories about motherwork, I reveal a counter narrative that was portrayed not only in their telling of their stories: but in their discursivelreflexive practices as mothers.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:28:50 EST