School of Education

Good Mother, Bad Mother?: Maternal Identities and Cyber-Agency in the Primary School Homework Debate

This new article written by School of Education ESRC-funded PhD student, Rachel Lehner-Mear, has been published in the Gender and Education Journal.


Primary homework in England is widespread and contentious, yet research largely ignores its gendered impact on families. This netnographic study locates mother perspectives online to explore whether participation in mother-focused forums affords maternal cyber-agency in the homework debate. Findings suggest that many women, positioning themselves as ‘good’ mothers, perform their maternal identity online by upholding an ideology of good mothering which expects maternal support for homework. Alternative homework practices are critiqued as ‘bad’ mothering. Although other perspectives emerge, individual mothers’ abilities to create new homework narratives in anonymous online spaces are restricted by the forums’ alignment towards dominant mothering ideologies and their normative practices. These findings question assumptions of maternal empowerment, support and cyber-agency, in online spaces which operate as communities of collective, hegemonic knowledge. Teachers also infiltrate the forums, directing maternal homework behaviours using good mothering. Good mothering’s impact on maternal cyber-agency and forum homework discussion is therefore highlighted.

Please visit the publisher's website to read the full article.

Posted on Friday 22nd May 2020

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