Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Building an urban village: An ethnographic study of mothers in the "family cooperative"
by Hardy, Ambyr M., M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2016, 120; 10196495
Abstract (Summary)

Contemporary urban mothers experience many challenges, even those in the middle class. Many of the challenges they face stem from western socio-economic and political systems. The present study recognizes the modern complexities of urban parenting and examines how and why many women are coming together in what I call social support peer networks, in order to mediate the plethora of challenges mothers experience today.

This research explores the “mommy group” phenomenon, through the ethnographic study of one such Southern California group, the “Family Cooperative,” which has adopted the adage “it takes a village to raise a child” in response to mothers’ feelings that “you can’t do it alone.” This mother-centered study recognizes the fact that urban residents of the U.S. no longer live in small, traditional villages, yet still need socio-emotional support while raising their children. As such this research examines the ways in which these urban mothers come together, and why they do so.

In this research I found that flexibility in participation allowed a variety of mothers to participate “at will,” and to have access to the type and amount of resources they required and desired. The close-knit core expressed the greatest appreciation and shared the most resources, such as material goods and child-sharing. Peripheral members, including some that only participate online, especially appreciated the sharing of vetted informational resources and the camaraderie found in the online forums. All of the participants expressed an appreciation for access to a community that helps alleviate the fears of motherhood. These fears stem from the confusing mothering ideologies in particular, and lead to uncertainty about being a “good mother,” and the subsequent fear of judgment that is pervasive in urban motherhood today.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Howell, Jayne
Commitee: Klein, Wendy, Scott, George M.
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Social research, Gender studies
Keywords: Community, Ethnography, Mother, Parenting, Social support peer network, Urban adaptation
Publication Number: 10196495
ISBN: 9781369375008
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