Political Uses of Motherhood in America
As various contemporary groups use the language of motherhood to advance their political causes, maternal rhetoric has become very visible in the American political discourse of late. Yet while it has long been recognized that women have invoked their political status as mothers to organize and authorize their political action in the past, scholars have only just begun to examine the recent reemergence of this frame.
The Political Uses of Motherhood in America investigates the under-researched topic of maternal frames in contemporary women’s political action, placing the motherhood frame and its usage in service of collective action at the center of its analysis. Cynthia Stavrianos first draws on IRS data to construct an original data set of political organizations using maternalist frames, using that data to describe the variety of political causes that women are organizing as mothers to address and to analyze whether ideologically conservative organizations are disproportionately represented among groups choosing this framing strategy. She supplements this survey with content analysis of the public appeals made by politically active mother groups to investigate whether the content of the maternal frames chosen by groups vary according to their place on the ideological spectrum. Finally, the book examines the use of maternal discourses in closer detail through a comparative case study of five groups using motherhood as their primary frame for collective political action: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Million Mom March, Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, Mainstreet Moms Organize or Bust, and Mothers in Charge.
Scholars interested in women and politics, interest group politics, social movements, political behavior, motherhood studies, and framing strategies will find this book noteworthy, as it adds to a growing body of literature exploring the use of motherhood as an emerging political frame, and to the interdisciplinary discussion of contemporary discourses of motherhood.