Consuming Motherhood

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Janelle S. Taylor, Linda L. Layne, Danielle F. Wozniak
Rutgers University Press, 2004 - Family & Relationships - 323 pages

Winner of the 2005 Society for Medical Anthropology's Best Current Edited Collection Award from the Council on Anthropology in Reproduction

Consuming Motherhood addresses the provocative question of how motherhood and consumption--as ideologies and as patterns of social action--mutually shape and constitute each other in contemporary North American and European social life. Ideologically, motherhood and consumption are often constructed in opposition to each other, with motherhood standing in as a naturalized social relation that is thought to be uniquely free of the calculating instrumentality that dominates commercial relations. Yet, in social life, motherhood and consumption are inseparable. Whether shopping for children's clothing or childbirth services, or making decisions about adopting children, becoming a mother (and maternal practice more generally) is deeply influenced by consumption. How can the relationship between motherhood and consumption be revealed, and critically analyzed? Consuming Motherhood brings together a group of sociologists, anthropologists, and religious studies scholars to address this question through carefully grounded ethnographic studies. This insightful book reveals how mothers negotiate the contradictory forces that position them as both immune from and the target of consumerist tendencies in contemporary global society.


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About the author (2004)

A professor of sociology at Baruch College of the City University of New York, Barbara Katz Rothman specializes in the fields of reproductive health and childbirth. In particular, she seeks to describe the experience of motherhood within our contemporary, highly technologized, and fixed medical structure. Rothman's more recent books develop this theme while examining specific new procreative technologies and how these technologies act to alter the occasion of childbirth. Rothman is a strong critic of market-based assumptions that define babies as "products of conception." She argues that to treat fetuses simply as objects encased in a woman's uterus does not adequately describe the relationship between mother and child; it only leads to illogical arguments regarding reproductive policy and legal actions against pregnant women who do not follow doctors' orders. Furthermore, Rothman points out that parent's mistakes in childrearing are idiosyncratic, while those of professionals are more dangerous because they are systematic and based on such motivations as ideology, self-interest, or bureaucratic efficiency. Rothman received her B.A. from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (1969), and an M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1979) from New York University. Long associated with the City University of New York and also with the state university, Rothman favors a feminist-centered view of parental rights and responsibilities.

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