Fluidity of the Concept of Mothering (A Sociological Study on Mothering in the Lived Experience of the Working Mothers and Fathers in Tehran)

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Ph.D. Student of Cultural Sociology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Professor of Sociology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor of Sociology, Department of Social Sciences, Al-Zahra University, Tehran, Iran

4 Associate Professor of Sociology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

The sociological studies on the concept of mothering have not been of much interest in Iran, so far. Thus, the current study has aimed at investigation of the lived experience of the mothers and the fathers working in Tehran. We, in the current study, have not investigated the motherhood, but we have addressed the mothering (the maternal role), through 31 field interviews with 15 couples and a single woman with intentional celibacy. The methodology of the study is based on the grounded theory. Therefore, the data were arranged based on the open, pivotal, and eventually, selective coding. The data were gathered revolving around four phenomena. The two phenomena of “the mothering dominant discourse of mothering” and “feminity of mothering”, considered mothering to be feminine and intrinsic, institutionalized in a woman. The other two phenomena, on the contrary to the former two, considered a beyond sex mothering and anti-essentialism role for the mothering. The two phenomena of “belief in beyond the gender mothering” and “the partition in dominant discourse of mothering” did not believe the mothering to be a feminine task, and implied a kind of balance based on the couple’s agreement. As a result, through adaptation of the data and the couple’s narratives, the phenomena of “plurality in the concept of mothering” was chosen as the central phenomenon. This phenomena implies a type of fluidity of the mothering concept, i.e. the mothering is no longer seen as one-way and merely feminine task, and the people, through putting the essentialism discourses and frameworks aside, follow a different function of mothering, which is based on degenderizing and pluralism. Thus, despite the fact that the traditions, the superior mothering structures, and most of the couples still consider the mothering to be feminine, in practice, and the lived experience, it has reached a mutual interaction and agreement between the couples, in its function.

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