Charlotte Faircloth (Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Kent)
Based on research in London, this paper explores the narratives of women who breastfeed ‘to full term’ (typically for a period of several years) as part of a philosophy of ‘attachment parenting’ – an approach to parenting which validates long term proximity between child and care‐taker. In using this case-study, whereby mothers narrate their decision to continue breastfeeding as ‘natural’ - ‘evolutionarily appropriate,’ ‘scientifically best,’ and ‘what feels right in their hearts' - the paper looks at how infant feeding decisions have become an increasingly politicised, and moralised, aspect of the mothering experience.
What follows is a reflection on how these 'accountability strategies' are given credence in narratives of mothering, how this relates to women’s experiences and what the implications of this are for society more broadly. The paper makes a contribution to wider sociological debates around the ways in which society and behaviour are regulated, and the ways in which particular knowledge claims are interpreted, internalized and mobilized by individuals in the course of their ‘identity work.'
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