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Challenging and Reproducing the Discourse of “Intensive Mothering” in Family Magazine “Mans Mazais” (2018–2022)

Elza Lāma
University of Latvia, Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences

Abstract. The dominant discourse of motherhood in Western civilization is of “intensive mothering”, coined by Hays in 1996, which views the mother as the primary caregiver with absolute responsibility over the child’s physical and psychological needs, promoting unrealistic standards, pressure on the mother, not to mention discrediting the benefits of a more present, engaged father, who is constructed mainly as a “bread winner” and assistant-parent. As recommended by Jansone-Ratinika (2013), the media should focus on egalitarian forms of family, thus, in doing so, gradually transforming hegemonic stereotypes in society. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore the various discourses of motherhood in the 21st century over a period of 5 years (2022–2018) in the family magazine “Mans Mazais” (My Little One). A critical discourse analysis has been conducted, illustrating the reproduction and challenge to the dominant discourse. The study provides insight into a variety of motherhood discourses (re)produced in the 36 issues of the family magazine “Mans Mazais” from 2018 to 2022, providing a spectrum of experiences and motherhood ideologies from “intensive mothering” to alternatives. However, the dominance of “intensive mothering” discourse is overbearing, displaying a portrait of an ideal family – a married Latvian heterosexual couple with happy children, who are cared after by the parents without any constraint in financial, emotional, physical resources, treating any challenge as a passing inconvenience.

Keywords: motherhood, intensive mothering, intensive parenting, Mans Mazais, critical discourse analysis

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2023. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2023. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 796 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-116-6