© 2015

Knowing Mothers

Researching Maternal Identity Change


Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial Series book series (STIP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. A Psycho-Social Research Project Example: Introducing Principles, Methods and Practices

  3. Three Psycho-Social Perspectives on Knowing and Becoming: Psychoanalytically Informed Theorising in Mothers’ and Researchers’ Knowing

  4. Analysing the Politics of the Maternal Psycho-Socially

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 137-137
    2. Wendy Hollway
      Pages 163-182
  5. In Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 183-183
    2. Wendy Hollway
      Pages 185-192
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 193-216

About this book


How do women experience the identity changes involved in becoming mothers for the first time? Throughout in depth case examples, Wendy Hollway demonstrates how a different research methodology, underpinned by a psychoanalytically informed epistemology, can transform our understanding of the early foundations of maternal identity.


ethics gender methodology psychoanalysis women

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.The Open UniversityUK

About the authors

Wendy Hollway is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at The Open University, UK. She has written extensively on empirical psycho-social methods using psychoanalytically informed interviewing and observation, as well as on mothering, care and subjectivity. The project on which this book is based was funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council, part of the Identities and Social Action programme.

Bibliographic information


“Hollway delves into the complexity of maternal identity to shed light on a deeply subjective time of human existence gravely overlooked in the masculine research domains of mental and physical health and medicine. … Hollway offers researchers and helping professionals a place to start in the development of a psychosocial approach to researching the less evident realms of human intra-and intersubjectivity. … Hollway’s book is remarkable and ground breaking.” (Aparna Mishra, Univeristy of Durham, Centre for Medical Humanities,, January, 2016)

'In Knowing Mothers, Wendy Hollway reflects deeply about the connection between how we live mothering and how we think about it. She invites us to witness her journey of discovery as she develops an innovative, multi-layered research approach that integrates psychoanalytic insights with qualitative empirical methods. In the process, she portrays the women whose lives she explores in ways that are textured, moving, and real.' - Daphne de Marneffe, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life

'Wendy Hollway's is a singular voice in psychosocial studies: lucid, provocative, pedagogic and accessible. Working with a unique data set of psychoanalytically informed observations and interviews documenting the first year of new motherhood, this book provides a series of exemplars showing how theory and method can be put to work in the project of knowing mothers and researching maternal becoming. Essential reading for all those interested in psychoanalytically informed social research methods as well as the growing interdisciplinary field of maternal studies.' - Rachel Thomson, University of Sussex, UK