Caring for the Celtic cubs: Discursive constructions of mothers and mothering in the Irish childcare debate

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Leane, Máire
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Association for Research on Mothering
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Drawing on an understanding of the public sphere as a multiplicity of communicative and discursive spaces this paper examines the constructions of mothers, mothering and motherhood which emerged in recent debates about childcare in Ireland. Preliminary analysis of these discursive constructions suggest that they are often based on rhetoric, informed by stereotypical assumptions and rooted in frames of reference which mitigate against the emergence of alternative ways of understanding the issues of mothering and childcare. It will be argued that the reductionist and divisive nature of the childcare debate which ensued prior to the 2005 budget, stymied childcare policy development at a time when its unprecedented prominence on the political agenda and the strength of public finances could have underpinned a shift in policy approach. The paper concludes with an exploration of the ways in which feminist scholarship can challenge the Irish model of childcare policy, which continues to be premised on an understanding of childcare and the reconciliation of work and family life as the privatised responsibility of individual women.
Construction of mothers , Ireland , Childcare policy
Máire Leane (2008) 'Caring for the Celtic Cubs: Discursive Constructions of Mothers and Mothering in the Irish Childcare Debate'. Arm: Journal of The Association For Research On Mothering, 10 (1):243-255.