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What are you feeling right now? Communities of maternal feeling on Mumsnet.

Pedersen, Sarah; Lupton, Deborah

Authors

Sarah Pedersen

Deborah Lupton

Abstract

In this article, we present an analysis of how communities of maternal feeling are configured by users on the discussion boards of Mumsnet, a popular British online parenting forum. A search was conducted to find threads with the phrase 'I feel' in the title. The first 100 threads in the search results using this term that referred to emotions - almost all of which articulated negative feelings - were then analysed. We argue that forums like Mumsnet provide an important anonymous space where women can talk openly about emotions. In doing so, feeling rules related to 'good motherhood' are established and reproduced. Members of Mumsnet tolerate some expression of feelings such as ambivalence, resentment, anxiety and anger and often provide empathy and friendly support in response. However, the expression of negative maternal feeling is tolerated only to a certain degree. Those posters who go beyond this boundary are positioned as exceeding the norm and requiring professional help. Forums such as Mumsnet often serve to support rather than challenge the political status quo in their emphasis on self-responsibility, personal choice and therapeutic solutions to what are positioned as private problems.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 28, 2018
Journal Emotion, space and society
Print ISSN 1755-4586
Electronic ISSN 1878-0040
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Pages 57-63
Institution Citation PEDERSEN, S. and LUPTON, D. 2018. What are you feeling right now? Communities of maternal feeling on Mumsnet. Emotion, space and society [online], 26, pages 57-63. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2016.05.001
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2016.05.001
Keywords Mothers; Emotions; Online communities; Peer support networks

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