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The escalating price of motherhood: aesthetic labour in popular representations of ‘stay-at-home’ mothers

De Benedictis, Sara and Orgad, Shani (2017) The escalating price of motherhood: aesthetic labour in popular representations of ‘stay-at-home’ mothers. In: Elias, A.S., Gill, Rosalind and Scharff, C., (eds.) Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism. Dynamics of Virtual Work. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 101-116. ISBN 9781137477644

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Identification Number: 10.1057/978-1-137-47765-1_5


The devaluation of domestic, reproductive, emotional and maternal labour has been extensively critiqued by feminist scholars and activists. Women’s domestic labour is normalised as ‘housework’, considered to have no material or economic recognition (Federici 2012), and childrearing and looking after the home are still often equated with ‘doing nothing’ (Crittenden 2010). Many have argued that cultural and media representations play a constitutive role in normalising the devaluation and thus exploitation of women’s productive and reproductive labour. The media legitimise the continuing lack of social, political and economic recognition and reward of motherhood by symbolically naturalising and masking maternal labour, for example, by representing mothers’ work as ‘natural’ and a product of intrinsic maternal love (Douglas and Michaels 2004). Building on this scholarship about the cultural construction of maternity, in this chapter we highlight aesthetic labour as a new(ly) added, previously unrecognised dimension of contemporary maternal labour that has emerged under neoliberalism.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 14:17
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 10:03

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