Maternal Outcasts: Governing Vulnerable Mothers in Advanced Marginality
This chapter extends and nuances Wacquant’s framework of advanced marginality through a focus on the management of ‘maternal outcasts’, which has been under-researched and under-theorised. It examines the role of the state in constructing and governing ‘bad’ or ‘failed’ mothers and their experiences of (in some cases) recurrent child removal. Wacquant’s thesis of the expansive penal state provides a useful framework to make sense of the technologies and techniques of child removal from vulnerable birth mothers. It highlights the destructive cycle of successive pregnancies and child removal—raising important questions around the ethicality and efficacy of these state interventions—and how symbolic state power is enacted against mothers to perpetuate, reinforce and reproduce hyper-marginalisation.
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