This article takes at its starting point the idea that maternalism and entrepreneurialism are necessarily antithetical as Julie Stephens argues in Confronting Postmaternal Thinking: Feminism, Memory, and Care [2012. New York: Columbia University Press]. Building on scholarship which shows how motherhood has become commercialised and commodified in contemporary culture, we extend this field by investigating how mothers who are providers of services to other mothers and pregnant women are negotiating neoliberalism and entrepreneurialism. Through an empirical investigation of birth and parenting entrepreneurs–including hypnobirthing classes and placenta pill businesses–in Bristol, UK we argue that our self-employed participants were building community and care economies within neoliberal modes of self-production, thus suggesting a more complex and ambivalent relationship between entrepreneurialism and postmaternalism. We suggest that the experiences of women entrepreneurs or ‘mumpreneurs’ offer insights into how the spaces of work might be, counter to Stephens’ characterisation, places of negotiation and struggle for the politics of feminism, rather than sites of ‘anti-maternalism’ or the ‘forgetting’ of maternalism. Moreover, our participants’ accounts were strongly shaped by feminist ethics of care thus challenging the representation of such services as therapeutic postfeminist technologies of self-work.
- Gender Research Group
- School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies - Senior Lecturer
- SPAIS Gender Research Centre
Person: Academic , Member