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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Naturalness, expertise, and risk: Attachment parenting as a metacultural engagement with American culture
by Hulen, Elizabeth, M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2014, 79; 1573142
Abstract (Summary)

Attachment parenting is a suite of childrearing practices that involve keeping an infant or child in close proximity to his or her caregiver for the purposes of fostering a secure, "attachment bond." These childrearing practices are based on the presumed instinctual needs of children and include on-demand and/or extended breastfeeding, child-led weaning, co-sleeping, and babywearing. In this thesis, I provide an ethnographic account of women living in Arizona who practice this style of childrearing as part of a philosophical orientation towards "natural" ways of living. I collected ethnographic data through semi-structured interviews and observational methods. I inductively coded and analyzed all data following the principles of grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Charmaz 2006) and I used the metacultural model (Urban 2001) to theoretically situate my findings. I demonstrate that the discursive construction of "attachment parenting" is illustrative of a metaculture of modernity (Urban 2001) because it involves the combination of discrete cultural elements to produce a novel cultural form. I show this by providing a historical overview of the emergence of parenting expertise in the United States, contextualizing the current investigation in parenting studies literature, and deconstructing notions of naturalness emergent in the narratives of women who practice this parenting style. I argue that attachment parenting as a philosophy provides its proponents and practitioners an interpretive frame in which to contest the processes associated with modernity and to find moral grounding in a sociocultural environment characterized by risk, uncertainty, and the medicalization of multiple aspects of human existence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilce, James M.
Commitee: Hardy, Lisa J., Small, Cathy A.
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Cultural anthropology, Womens studies, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Arizona, Attachment parenting, Expertise, Medical anthropology, Metaculture, Naturalism, Parenting culture
Publication Number: 1573142
ISBN: 978-1-321-49340-5
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