'What Science Says is Best': Parenting Practices, Scientific Authority and Maternal Identity
AbstractBased on research in London with mothers from a breastfeeding support organisation this paper explores the narratives of women who breastfeed \'to full term\' (typically for a period of several years) as part of a philosophy of 'attachment parenting', an approach to parenting which validates long term proximity between child and care-taker. In line with wider cultural trends, one of the most prominent \'accountability strategies\' used by this group of mothers to explain their long-term breastfeeding is recourse to scientific evidence, both about the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding and about the broader cognitive and developmental benefits of attachment parenting more broadly. Women\'s accounts internalize and reflect popular literature around attachment parenting, which is explored here in-depth as a means of contextualizing shifting patterns of \'scientisation\'. What follows is a reflection on how \'scientific evidence\' is given credence in narratives of mothering, and what the implications of this are for individuals in their experience of parenting, and for society more broadly. As a form of \'Authoritative Knowledge\' (Jordan 1997) women utilise 'science' when they talk about their decisions to breastfeed long-term, since it has the effect of placing these non-conventional practices beyond debate (they are simply what is \'healthiest\'). The article therefore makes a contribution to wider sociological debates around the ways in which society and behaviour are regulated, and the ways in which \'science\' is interpreted, internalized and mobilized by individuals in the course of their \'identity work\'.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Sociological Research Online in its journal Sociological Research Online.
Volume (Year): 15 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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Parenting; Psychology; Neuroscience; Scientific Authority; Maternal Identity;
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