“I’m mum and dad in one, basically.”: Doing and displaying ‘good lone motherhood’

Nicola Carroll, Tray Yeadon-Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Popular discourse continues to equate ‘good’ motherhood with middle class, heterosexual coupledom and lone motherhood with dysfunctionality, despite ever-increasing diversity in family life. Drawing on interviews with lone mothers in two locations in the North of England, this article introduces the concept of ‘good lone motherhood’ to capture a process whereby women internalise nuclear family ideology while simultaneously resisting stigma and taking pride in their achievements in fulfilling practical and emotional demands of lone parenting. Application of a family practices framework (Morgan, 1996; Finch, 2007) is expanded through insights into what ‘doing’ good lone motherhood entails in everyday life and how it is ‘displayed’ to different audiences. Taking a comparative approach involving women in areas with contrasting socio-economic profiles highlights the contextual nature of display. Analysis of agential reflexivity and structural constraints demonstrates ways in which gender and class disadvantages can undermine capacity to ‘successfully’ convey a positive maternal identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Jul 2021


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