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Family business women in media discourse: the business role and the mother role

Cecilia Bjursell (Encell – National Centre for Lifelong Learning, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)
Lisa Bäckvall (Center for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO), Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 30 September 2011




Writings in the media have the potential to influence our standpoint and, thereby, our actions. In this paper, the authors analyze how women in family business are represented in media to understand the frames set by this discourse in terms of women owning and leading family businesses. The aim of the paper is to explore how the counterposed roles of business person and mother are presented in media and what implications this might have for role enactment.


The paper opted for an exploratory study of 308 articles about women in family business over a 15‐year period. In the interpretative, qualitative analysis of media texts, the discursive construction of the mother role and the business role are explored.


The paper provides empirical insights into how the mother role is taken for granted while the business role is approached as problematic in portrayals of women in family business. The authors discuss whether the media discourse reinforces traditional roles or stimulates role innovation.

Practical implications

Understanding role as something separate from the individual provides a means to critically review expectations of women in business and how these expectations hinder business activities.


The study examines data over a 15‐year period in the Swedish media setting and describes changes in attitudes about women's roles in family business. Regarding the family business as an arena for performative acts provides a perspective that can highlight the intertwinement of the private and professional arenas in family business.



Bjursell, C. and Bäckvall, L. (2011), "Family business women in media discourse: the business role and the mother role", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 154-173.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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