Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare public health discourses on the importance of motherhood with organizational attitudes towards childbearing. It shows how pregnancy and the nurturing of infant children are valorized within public health discourses, which treat pregnancy and new maternity as a miraculous “project”, encouraging mothers to position maternity as central to their lives. By contrast, the paper shows how employers treat pregnancy and new motherhood as inconvenient and messy: as monstrous, at work. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws upon a database of qualitative netnographic (or internet-based) research. It analyses netnographic interactions between pregnant and newly maternal women. These virtual data are afforded the same validity as face-to-face research. Findings – The paper demonstrates how maternal responsibilities for nurturing pregnancy and infant children, and the bio-medical properties of the maternal body, are central to public health discourses. By contrast, the maternal body is treated within organizations as alien, or monstrous. Originality/value – The paper compares and contrasts public health valorizations of motherhood, with organizational tendencies to treat pregnancy/newly maternal bodies as monstrous. It highlights dichotomies faced by employed mothers. A continuing chasm between the social organization of maternity, and the attitudes of employers towards children and maternal bodies, is identified.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 15, 2014
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