Parenting agendas : an empirical study of intensive mothering and infant cognitive development

Budds, Kirsty and Hogg, Margaret Kathleen and Banister, Emma Neva and Dixon, Mandy Patricia (2017) Parenting agendas : an empirical study of intensive mothering and infant cognitive development. The Sociological Review, 65 (2). pp. 336-352. ISSN 0038-0261

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Intensive parenting debates reflect the critical importance of a child’s early years, and parents’ roles in determining later developmental outcomes. Mothers are usually assigned primary responsibility for facilitating their infants’ cognitive development through adequate and appropriate sensory stimulation. Drawing on Foucault’s technologies of the self we explore how new mothers shape their mothering practices in order to provide appropriately stimulating interactions. Using findings from 64 interviews (31 women were interviewed twice, 2 women were interviewed only once) we identify three main positions whereby mothers function in relation to their infants’ development; mother as committed facilitator, creative provider and careful/caring monitor. We consider the perceived normative nature of these positions and the impact they can have on middle-class women’s subjectivities as new mothers. Our study of parental agendas and infant cognitive development suggests that a continued focus on the mother’s role within early infant development reflects and upholds ideologies of child-centred, intensive mothering, which risks precluding ‘alternative’ maternal subjectivities and promotes conservative feminine identities.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The Sociological Review
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, The Sociological Review, 65 (2), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at The Sociological Review page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? transition to motherhoodintensive motheringchild developmenttechnologies of the selfsociology and political sciencediscipline-based research ??
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Deposited On:
19 Sep 2016 15:50
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:44