Advertisement

Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 415–437 | Cite as

Constructing motherhood on the night shift: “Working mothers” as “stay-at-home moms”

  • Anita Ilta Garey
Article

Abstract

Based on in-depth interviews with hospital nurses, this article examines the way in which employed women with children use the night shift to support a construction of motherhood which closely resembles that of mothers who are not in the labor force. Interview data reveal that a salient function of night shift work is the reconciliation of some of the structural and conceptual incompatibilities of being “working mothers.” Night-shift nurses construct themselves as “stay-at-home moms” by limiting the public visibility of their labor force participation, by involving their children and themselves in symbolically-invested activities, and by positioning themselves in the culturally-appropriate place and time: at home, during the day. All of these strategies work to highlight their visibility as mothers.

Key words

motherhood shift work nurses working mothers sleep deprivation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bahrami, B. (1988). Hours of Work Offered by Nurses.Social Science Journal 25, 325–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett, S. K., and Alexander, L. B. (1987). The Mythology of Part-time Work: Empirical Evidence from a Study of Working Mothers. In L. Beneria and C. R. Stimpson (Eds.),Women, Households, and the Economy (pp. 225–41). New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, P. L., and Luckmann, T. (1966).The Social Construction of Reality. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  4. Blumer, H. (1969).Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Collier, J., Rosaldo, M. Z., and Yanagisako, S. (1982). Is There a Family? New Anthropological Views. In B. Thorne and M. Yalom (Eds.),Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions (pp. 25–39). New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  6. Cole, J. B. (1986). Commonalities and Differences. InAll American Women: Lines That Divide, Ties That Bind (pp. 1–30). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, P. H. (1990).Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  8. Coltrane, S. (1989). Household Labor and the Routine Production of Gender.Social Problems, 36, 473–490.Google Scholar
  9. Coser, R. L. (1991).In Defense of Modernity: Role Complexity and Individual Autonomy. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Darnton, N. (1990). Mommy vs. Mommy.Newsweek, June 4, 64–7.Google Scholar
  11. DeVault, M. L. (1991).Feeding the Family: The Social Organization of Caring as Gendered Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Etaugh, C., and Study, G. G. (1989). Perceptions of Mothers: Effects of Employment Status, Marital Status, and Age of Child.Sex Roles, 20, 59–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gans, H. (1976). The West End: An Urban Village. In M. P. Golden (Ed.),The Research Experience. Itasca, Il: Peacock.Google Scholar
  14. Garey, A. I. (1994). Employment, Motherhood, and the Concept of ‘Career’: Resolving Conflicting Vocabularies of Motive. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association, 5–9 August.Google Scholar
  15. —— (1993). Constructing Identities as Working Mothers: Time, Space, and Family in a Study of Women Hospital Workers. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  16. Gerson, K. (1985).Hard Choices: How Women Decide About Work, Career, and Motherhood. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. Goffman, E. (1972).Relations in Public: Microstudies of the Public Order. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  18. Hertz, R., and Charlton, J. (1989). Making Family under a Shiftwork Schedule: Air Force Security Guards, and Their Wives.Social Problems, 36, 491–507.Google Scholar
  19. Hertz, R., and Ferguson, F. (1995). Childcare Choices and Constraints in the United States: Social Class, Race and the Influence of Family Views.Journal of Comparative Family Studies 25 (in press).Google Scholar
  20. Hochschild, A. (1989).The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  21. Hunt, M. (1985).Profiles of Social Research: A Scientific Study of Human Interactions. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Ibsen, H. (1958 [1879]). A Doll's House. In R. F. Sharp (transl.),Four Great Plays by Ibsen. New York: Bantam.Google Scholar
  23. Komarovsky, M. (1967 [1962]).Blue-collar Marriage. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  24. Lamphere, L., Zavella, P. Gonzales, F., with Evans, P. B. (1993).Sunbelt Working Mothers: Reconciling Family and Factory. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Marshall, N. L., and Barnett, R., (1990). Race and Class in the Intersection of Work and Family Among Women Employed in the Service Sector. Wellesley College,Working Paper #208.Google Scholar
  26. Moen, P. (1985). Continuities and Discontinuities in Women's Labor Force Activity. In G. H. Elder, Jr. (Ed.),Life Course Dynamics: Trajectories and Transitions, 1968–1980 (pp. 113–155). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  27. —— (1989).Working Parents: Transformations in Gender Roles and Public Policies in Sweden. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  28. —— (1992).Women's Two Roles: A Contemporary Dilemma. New York: Auburn House.Google Scholar
  29. Ortner, S. B. (1990). Gender Hegemonies.Cultural Critique, 14, 35–80.Google Scholar
  30. Presser, H. B. (1987). Work Shifts of Full-Time Dual-Earner Couples: Patterns and Contrasts by Sex of Spouse.Demography, 24, 99–112.Google Scholar
  31. —— (1988). Shift Work and Child Care among Young Dual-Earner American Parents.Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 133–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. —— (1989). Can We Make Time for Children? The Economy, Work Schedules, and Child Care.Demography, 26, 523–543.Google Scholar
  33. Rollins, J. (1985).Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Segura, D. A. (1994). Working at Motherhood: Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Mothers and Employment. In E. N. Glenn, G. Chang, and L. R. Forcey (Eds.),Mothering: Ideology, Experience, and Agency (pp. 211–233). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Scully, D. (1980).Men Who Control Women's Health: The Miseducation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  36. Smith, D. E. (1987).The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology. Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Stacey, J. (1990).Brave New Families. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  38. Stack, C. B. (1974).All Our Kin: Strategies for Survival in a Black Community. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  39. U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1990).Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1990. Washington, D.C.: U.S.G.P.O.Google Scholar
  40. Walker, K. (1990). Class, Work, and Family in Women's Lives.Qualitative Sociology. 13, 297–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. West, C., and Zimmerman D. (1987). Doing Gender.Gender & Society, 1, 125–151.Google Scholar
  42. White, L., and Keith, B. (1990). The Effect of Shift Work on the Quality and Stability of Marital Relations.Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 453–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zavella, P. (1987).Women's Work and Chicano Families: Cannery Workers of the Santa Clara Valley. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Ilta Garey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Horton Social Science CenterUniversity of New HampshireDurham

Personalised recommendations