chapter  8
20 Pages

Whose expertize? Conceptualizing resistance to advice about childrearing

Psychological discourses present themselves as authorities on our intimate relationships. Psychology’s knowledge of ‘the child’ and ‘his [sic] development’ makes it the expertise sine qua non in the realm of parent-child relations and childcare practices in contemporary Western cultures.1 Within this domain, as in others, psychological discourses can clearly be understood as regulative. This chapter illustrates the change in tone from the experts who advised mothers earlier this century, to the way psychological knowledge about children is presented to today’s parents who are obliged to be informed by it. Does this shift reveal any change in the power of psychological discourses? Does a discursive framework (Foucault, 1977a, 1979, 1980a; Parker, 1992) allow us to recognize the power of psychological discourses of mothering without constructing women as passive in relation to them? How might we conceptualize women’s active engagement with and resistance to psychological discourses of motherhood?