chapter  6
26 Pages

Working-class mothering: Strengths and values

So far this book has explored working-class mothers’ accounts of their lives, highlighting the way meanings are grounded in particular social and material realities. In this chapter the focus is on the way these situated understandings allow the mothers to generate crucial resources for their children. I begin by considering the status and significance these women attach to motherhood. In spite of unremittingly negative public portrayals of ‘pramfaces’ and chavettes, most of the women in my research forged an extremely positive identity around mothering, emphasising satisfaction, pleasure and competence. In a context of deprivation and struggle, being a mother was valued and prioritised and was characterised by resilience and determination. The significance of home for the mothers in the study is further underlined in this chapter through a focus on the emotional resources made available to children. I show how crucial (though easily overlooked) home-based efforts to repair children’s self-esteem, protect them from harm and promote their educational and future prospects can be viewed in terms of ‘emotional capital’. These emotional investments ensure mothering practices are tailored to reflect the specific challenges faced by working-class families on a day-today basis.