Mothering and care for children in a risk society


The author evaluates the theoretical potential of the “risk society” concept for research of contemporary mothering. The paper is based on statistical data as well as on author’s study of practices of combining paid labor and care for children by employed mothers. The author distinguishes two dimensions of applying the concept of risk society. First, the impact of a society of risk and uncertainty on women’s reproductive attitudes and practices. One of the motivations of postponed childbirth and fertility intentions on giving birth to only one child is fear for the fate of children, especially in societies with economic and political instability.

These risks are gendered, that is caused by high probability of divorce in Ukraine and high number of mother-headed families in Ukraine, the risk of poverty of these families, and the emergence of conflict between paid and reproductive labor, especially in terms of increasing social and cultural “standards of motherhood”. Secondly, it is the impact of risk society and “culture of fear” on everyday mothering practices. The author’s research demonstrates that issue of parental fears, various threats to children and the mothers’ desire to protect the child from them is a part of the contemporary mothers’ narratives.

The mothers’ ideas of space outside the home as a dangerous for the child is more than just a discourse, but also is a part of the daily care practices for the child.

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