Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Narratives of Mothering and Work: A Critical Exploration of the Intersectional Experiences of Mothers of Color
by Dillard, Nicole, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2018, 207; 10785495
Abstract (Summary)

The position I adopt in this study, aligned with Lyotard (1979), asserts that the master narrative guiding societal and organizational beliefs, values, and knowledge about mothering and work represents a privileged standpoint and does not represent the experiences of mothers of color. Additionally, the master narrative works to harm mothers of color because these women evaluate their own experiences by the expectations and norms generated by the master narrative. Embodied in a critical approach to research towards resisting the power of the master narrative, I explore the power and wisdom in the experiences of mothers of color. By creating research that is centered on their experiences, we can support the development of their own critical consciousness, the self-reflection of others while also creating meaningful change that can inform our communities, organizations and society. Ultimately, I seek to de-center the master narrative by highlighting the experiences of women who do not fit into this privileged story. These mothers are harmed by the dominant narrative’s invisible and sustained hold on the beliefs, values, norms, and expectations about mothering and work.

Therefore, within this context, the purpose of this study was twofold. First, from a critical perspective, the study explored master narratives of mothering, work, and the how mothers of color experience those narratives. Second, the critical emancipatory nature of this research engaged the participating mothers of color in a process of empowerment. This process included the development of resources that not only empower working mothers of color, but also are vital tools for the organizations they serve to diminish the narratives’ harmful effects. To explore this phenomenon, this study answered two research questions: How are narratives of mothering and work experienced by working mothers of color? How can the development of counter-narratives facilitate empowerment?

In answering these two research questions, the study had two main conclusions supported by four core themes. Thus, the study found that participants experienced narratives of mothering and work through a complex and fluid process involving their multiple identities, the power dynamics surrounding them (particularly within their work places), negotiating self-care, and the influence of support systems. These four dimensions (or themes, as presented through the methodology) dynamically interacted with each other to generate a distinctly unique experience for participants based on their various identities.

Therefore, the findings of this research expose the roles narratives play in reproducing the limited views which dominate our understanding of working mothers. By exploring these narratives and highlighting women of color’s experiences, we are offered a new depiction and a more accurate description of mothering. These more accurate descriptions will be useful for theory, policy, research, and practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Storberg-Walker, Julia
Commitee: Ken, Ivy, Parker, Patricia
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human and Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Womens studies, Public policy, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Critical narrative analysis, Critical participatory action research, Critical race feminism, Intersectionality, Narratives, Work-life
Publication Number: 10785495
ISBN: 978-0-355-82879-5
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