Digital Media and Modern Motherhood

In honor of Mother’s Day, this week’s featured review looks at motherhood in the digital age.

Mothering through precarity: women’s work and digital media

Wilson, Julie A. and Emily Chivers Yochim. Duke, 2017
216p bibl index, 9780822363477 $24.95, 9780822373193

Mothers today experience neoliberal expectations about independence and self-reliance. The authors argue that such idealism heightens social and familial insecurities while limiting social support and resources, as mothers are expected to be supermoms. Relying on in-depth interviews, Wilson and Yochim (both, communication arts and theater, Allegheny College) demonstrate how mothers navigate this difficult terrain by using various forms of digital media that serve as the “affective infrastructures.” These media reflect mothers’ struggles to establish their ordinary family lives, or the “desire for the mundane.” The digital world, therefore, embodies “women’s unrelenting efforts at holding together their families.” Starting with the study of the recent history of maternal expectations, the authors show how mothers handle various struggles, such as their own or their spouse’s career and lack of resources, to achieve happiness for the family. Neoliberal views on motherhood result in privatized happiness. While this perspective has given mothers more power, equality, and authority over their own family matters, they are also under more social responsibility and pressure. The affective infrastructures have much to be desired. But the digital world can potentially offer mothers means to gain both material and social support.

Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.
Reviewer: Y. Kiuchi, Michigan State University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Sociology
Choice Issue: Oct 2017