Reordering Motherhood and Employment:Mobilising ‘Mums Everywhere’ during Covid-19

Ashman, Rachel and Radcliffe, Laura and Patterson, Anthony and Gatrell, Caroline (2022) Reordering Motherhood and Employment:Mobilising ‘Mums Everywhere’ during Covid-19. British Journal of Management, 33 (3). pp. 1125-1143. ISSN 1045-3172

Text (BJM_Employed_Mothers_Final (1))
BJM_Employed_Mothers_Final_1_.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 22 June 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (1MB)


This paper explores the impact of the ‘mobilisation’ of employed mothers by the UK government to home-school and care for children while performing paid work at home, in order to limit Covid-19 transmission. Drawing upon actor-network theory (ANT), we extend John Law’s (1994) concept ‘modes of ordering’ (or strategic shifts in response to change when power relations are unequal) to illuminate how employed mothers’ networks were reordered. Through a netnographic qualitative study we observe how they re-ordered personal and local networks to combine homeworking, home-schooling, and childcare. We learn how, when mothers’ usual networks broke down, they employed three novel modes of reordering: retentive, retrogressive, and reformative. These modes capture the complex relationships between work and family – an area of concern that has previously received limited attention in relation to actor networks. Our findings reveal the gendered nature of the mandatory imposition of home working during the pandemic. Through developing Law’s modes of ordering, we demonstrate the potential of actor-network theory to understand the impact on mothers of homeworking and highlight important practical contributions for organisations and governments.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal of Management
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ashman, R., Radcliffe, L., Patterson, A. and Gatrell, C. (2022), Re-ordering Motherhood and Employment: Mobilizing ‘Mums Everywhere’ during Covid-19. Brit J Manage, 33: 1125-1143. doi: 10.1111/1467-8551.12630 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 May 2022 13:30
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 11:26