Transitions to motherhood: young women’s desire for respectability, responsibility and moral worth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the UK, teenage motherhood is depicted in the media and government policy as highly negative and problematic. Pregnant and mothering young women are constructed as socially excluded members of society who belong to an assumed underclass who lack responsibility and respectability. This article draws on the views and perspectives of pregnant and mothering young women in the east of England to examine how positive and successful subjects are defined and understood. It is illustrated how this group of working-class young women negotiated and resisted their positioning as ‘unfit’ mothers and ‘bad’ citizens. Central to their narratives was a desire to reassert themselves as respectable and responsible individuals through engaging in education and employment in order to achieve financial independence. It is argued that this notion of respectability provides a limited and limiting understanding of inclusion and moral worth for working-class young women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Early online date17 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2019

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motherhood
responsibility
working class
media policy
government policy
inclusion
citizen
narrative
lack
education
Group

Keywords

  • Transition
  • motherhood
  • Mothers: education
  • education
  • narratives
  • identity
  • Parenthood
  • exclusion
  • employment
  • qualitative
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis

Cite this

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title = "Transitions to motherhood: young women’s desire for respectability, responsibility and moral worth",
abstract = "In the UK, teenage motherhood is depicted in the media and government policy as highly negative and problematic. Pregnant and mothering young women are constructed as socially excluded members of society who belong to an assumed underclass who lack responsibility and respectability. This article draws on the views and perspectives of pregnant and mothering young women in the east of England to examine how positive and successful subjects are defined and understood. It is illustrated how this group of working-class young women negotiated and resisted their positioning as ‘unfit’ mothers and ‘bad’ citizens. Central to their narratives was a desire to reassert themselves as respectable and responsible individuals through engaging in education and employment in order to achieve financial independence. It is argued that this notion of respectability provides a limited and limiting understanding of inclusion and moral worth for working-class young women.",
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AB - In the UK, teenage motherhood is depicted in the media and government policy as highly negative and problematic. Pregnant and mothering young women are constructed as socially excluded members of society who belong to an assumed underclass who lack responsibility and respectability. This article draws on the views and perspectives of pregnant and mothering young women in the east of England to examine how positive and successful subjects are defined and understood. It is illustrated how this group of working-class young women negotiated and resisted their positioning as ‘unfit’ mothers and ‘bad’ citizens. Central to their narratives was a desire to reassert themselves as respectable and responsible individuals through engaging in education and employment in order to achieve financial independence. It is argued that this notion of respectability provides a limited and limiting understanding of inclusion and moral worth for working-class young women.

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KW - Mothers: education

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KW - narratives

KW - identity

KW - Parenthood

KW - exclusion

KW - employment

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