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'Speaking as a mother': A membership categorisation analysis of child-centric talk in a UK daytime television talk show

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posted on 2022-01-20, 18:06 authored by Laura KilbyLaura Kilby, Emily Foster
In this study, we explore motherhood as an interactionally emergent identity category which speakers simultaneously construct and lay claim to in talk, and as a category which is imbued with moral expectations of how its incumbents should behave. We analyse 18 chid-centric debates from British daytime television talk show This Morning. We use Membership Categorisation Analysis to explore how, and to what effect, women deploy claims to motherhood. We report 3 main findings; (i) Speakers routinely quantify their motherhood credentials as they develop rights to be heard on child-centric matters; (ii) Speaking as a mother habitually trumps the arguments offered by other speakers, including those with professional expertise; (iii) Any challenge to essentialist norms of motherhood become accountable concerns for speakers. We conclude that whilst there is power in motherhood insomuch as it vests women with expertise and elevates their rights to be heard on child-centric matters, the speakers in our study of mainstream debates about child-centric issues nevertheless construct motherhood in a manner which (re)produces and elevates essentialised notions of gender.


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no conflicts of interest

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Lead author country

  • United Kingdom

Lead author job role

  • Independent researcher

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no institution affiliation

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