9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN33 Women's and Gender Studies

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Gender Roles: Between Working and Caring Building II, C4.02

"New Maternal Lifestyle" - Analysis of the Changes in Motherhood in Poland

The aim of following paper is to analyze the ways the model of "Matka Polka" (Mother Pole) has been challenged in within last few years. Matka Polka is known as construct that limits femaleness to "procreation and domesticy". Its main features are said to be "faithfulness to the church, obedience to a husband, devotion to household chores as well as handiness connected to permanent tiredness".
Although tendencies to reproduce or even reinforce traditional motherhood might be observed, they seem to be limited to lower classes. My goal is to study privilege mothers and their presence in space outside home. I am interested in investigating very specifying context of privileging motherhood, that is free market institutions stemmed from attempts to derive parenting from home. In other words objects of my interests are mothers friendly cafes, magazines promoting fashionable motherhood, etc. To resume I am concentrating on promoting maternal lifestyle targeted to high classes and transformations of public sphere it involves.

Moreover it is interesting how challenging catholic model is justified. My previous research showed that in Internet discourse concerning motherhood category Polish is usually used to describe practices defined as traditional, obscure, catholic, anti/modern and backward, whereas label "European" means civilized modern, fashionable, etc. I am interested whether "Matka Polka" is present in nay way in institutions I mentioned above.

My main question is what is their approach toward matka polka. Do they define themselves as European or cosmopolitan or, on the contrary seek new fashionable Pole. Do they operate traditional definition of modernity or reconceptualizing it by remodeling Matka Polka. What alternative model they are promoting


In my investigation I am using the category of lifestyle, that insofar has not been used in social research concerning motherhood in Poland. Previous research were rather influenced by moral panic related to decreasing birthrate. Apart from these rather confusing considerations how to force young selfish consumers to traditional parenting there were also scholars that analyzed motherhood as institution. Using the framework of lifestyle brings new perspective that might explain relation of class differences and mothering.