Outside and Inside the Arena of Othering: Notions of ‘Intensive Mothering’ Revealed through Post-Abortion Narratives

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Abstract

This article explores the reproduction of the practice of ‘intensive mothering’ as theorised by Sharon Hays via the theoretical lens of Othering. Examining 20 post-abortion narratives that were shared by women living in Perth (Western Australia), I interrogate the Othering practice that distinguishes those who practise intensive mothering and those who cannot or do not, creating a line of division between the ‘good mother’ and the ‘bad mother’. While Othering tends to be examined uni-directionally, along clear boundary lines such as ethnicity and gender, I utilise the concept of the ‘arena of Othering’. I argue that the process of Othering excludes some people from participating in abortion discourse while bolstering the image of the responsible Self. By studying abortion narratives, this article contributes to both sets of literature: motherhood and Othering, making possible an interrogation of ‘intensive mothering’ and offering the alternative ‘good enough mothering’ to resist Othering.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalSociology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2024

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