The Valuing of Caring and Working by Government Policy and First Time Mothers

By Ella R Kahu and Mandy Morgan

 

Abstract

This paper examines the discourses which construct women’s identities as mother and worker. In order to explore the discursive interface between policy and experience, two texts were analysed and compared: the New Zealand government policy for women and the talk of first time mothers. Both similarities and differences were identified but the key difference was one of priority.

The policy document privileged paid work and constructed women’s caregiving responsibilities as a demand. For the women, although paid work was financially and psychologically important, their priority was their mothering.

The analysis reveals the increasing dominance of discourses of economic rationalism, which elevate market work to the status of essential and diminish the importance of reproduction and care. We argue that these discourses do not serve women, men, or children well. Although the women drew upon newer discourses which enable a more comfortable weaving together of their identities of mother and worker, this must not be seen as the total solution.

What is needed is a more complete breakdown of the public/private divide: a society which values care and work, both as responsibilities and rewards of citizenship, and which will therefore allow both women and men to construct more balanced lives and identities.

This article was published in the NZ Research in ECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008

You can find it on our website - in the NZIRECE Journal Research Journal area of our website. 

Are you interested in joining us? 
Become a member and also gain access to our significant online knowledge base 

Membership Options

Educator
Membership

Who is this for?
Teachers - Student Teachers - Parents
$78.00 one year
$145.00 two years
Your own personal username and password.
Includes access to research library

ECE Service Provider  
Membership

Who is this for?
Service providers with one or more licensed ECE services
Starting from $198.00 for one year
Your own unique username and password.
Includes access to research library 

Researcher Membership or
a Library Subscription

Who is this for?
Libraries and organisations $250 annual 
Researchers $145.00 for two years
Access to over 20 years of NZ-International Research in ECE journal issues and articles