Special Session: Researching Motherhood: Experience, Empowerment and Embodiment

“motherhood has usually been examined as something that happens to people, and almost never as something that people do.” Maushart 1999

Since this conference focuses on gender and consumer behaviour, it seems apt to offer a special session based on a fundamentally gendered consumption experience: that of motherhood. Much has been written in many different literatures about motherhood and identity and how this identity is shaped and moulded over time. However, as Maushart (1999) and others (Smith, 1999a; 1999b) acknowledge, very little has been written about motherhood as experience. Similarly very little has been written about the role consumption plays in women’s transition to motherhood. Some embryonic research has been published in recent years (see for example Prothero 2002, Jennings and O’Malley 2003, Carrigan and Szmigin 2004; and O’Malley 2005) and it is hoped this session will contribute to the growing body of knowledge in this area. While Adrienne Rich’s (1976) groundbreaking Of Woman Born talked of a distinction between motherhood as experience and motherhood as institution, this special session aims to explore how consumption shapes the experience of new mothers. The session also focuses on how research with new mothers is conducted and disseminated, and the role both gender and motherhood status play in researching mothers’ consumption experiences.

The first paper in the special session is from a research project conducted by a team of eight researchers based in Denmark, Ireland, the UK and the USA. The second and third are based on projects currently underway in Ireland. The first paper is a methodological one and explores issues and experiences related to mothers researching mothers, and the impact this has on the collection and interpretation of data. The second paper raises the question of women’s empowerment in a maternity setting and whether this question can actually be asked in the context of the marketing academy. The final paper explores the area of embodiment, focusing specifically on the pregnant body and considers embodied experiences both before and after pregnancy.


Andrea Prothero, Andrea Davies, Susan Dobscha, and Susi Geiger|Stephanie O’Donohoe|Lisa O’Malley (2006) ,"Special Session: Researching Motherhood: Experience, Empowerment and Embodiment", in GCB - Gender and Consumer Behavior Volume 8, eds. Lorna Stevens and Janet Borgerson, Edinburgh, Scottland : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 5.


Andrea Prothero, School of Business, University College Dublin
Andrea Davies, Management Centre, Leicester University
Susan Dobscha, Bentley College
Susi Geiger|Stephanie O’Donohoe|Lisa O’Malley, School of Business, University College Dublin|Management School and Economics, The University of Edinburgh|Department of Management and Marketing, University of Limerick


GCB - Gender and Consumer Behavior Volume 8 | 2006

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