“Watching What I’m Doing, Watching How I’m Doing It”: Exploring the Everyday Experiences of Surveillance and Silenced Voices Among Marginalized Mothers in Welsh Low-Income Locales

Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins

ISBN: 978-1-78756-400-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-399-5

ISSN: 1529-2126

Publication date: 15 November 2018

Abstract

Motherhood and mothering are conceived in relation to classed hierarchies through which those living in poverty become characterized by “otherhood” and “othering.” This positioning leaves them vulnerable to overt and indirect forms of criticism, surveillance, and policing from family, friends, professionals, and strangers; against a background of demonization of particular types of mothers and mothering practices in the wider mediascape. This chapter draws on 3 studies, involving 28 participants, which explored their journeys into the space of parenthood and their everyday experiences. The participants all resided in low-income locales. Many participants had resided in homeless hostels and mother and baby units before being placed in local authority housing or low-grade rented accommodation. The studies all employed forms of visual ethnography, including photoelicitation, timelines, emotion stickers, collage, and sandboxing. Participants discussed different forms of surveillance where other people were characterized as “watching what I’m doing, watching how I’m doing it.” These forms of watching ranged from the structured policing encountered in mother-and-baby units to more informal comments from passers-by or passengers on a bus journey; and an awareness of how mothers in state housing are depicted in the media. These interactions were sometimes met with resistance. At other times, they were simply another incident that participants negotiated in a growing tapestry of disrespect and devaluation. This chapter argues that these discourses demonize and alienate mothers living on the margins, making already difficult journeys a constant struggle in the moral maze of contemporary motherhood and its accompanying conceptualizations of “otherhood.”

Keywords

Citation

Mannay, D., Creaghan, J., Gallagher, D., Mason, S., Morgan, M. and Grant, A. (2018), "“Watching What I’m Doing, Watching How I’m Doing It”: Exploring the Everyday Experiences of Surveillance and Silenced Voices Among Marginalized Mothers in Welsh Low-Income Locales", Taylor, T. and Bloch, K. (Ed.) Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 25-40. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-212620180000025002

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited

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