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Manufacturing Motherhood: The Shadow Work of Nannies and Au Pairs

Abstract

This paper explores how working mothers and paid child care providers interpret the division of mothering labor in the context of in-home care. The nannies, au pairs, and working mothers interviewed for this study make sense of their shared “mother-work” in the context of a dominant belief system that values “intensive mothering.” Consequently, in addition to negotiating the allocation of mothering tasks, they must also negotiate the meanings assigned to these tasks: specifically, they manufacture an image of shared mothering that contradicts their day-to-day practice.

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Macdonald, C.L. Manufacturing Motherhood: The Shadow Work of Nannies and Au Pairs. Qualitative Sociology 21, 25–53 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022119309086

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  • motherhood
  • child care
  • work and family