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Exploring Constructions of “Good” Motherhood on Social Media: Navigating Neoliberal Mommy Rhetorics and the Negative Affective Entanglements of Women’s Discourses on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram

Jennifer Marie Rome, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Social media provides a particularly unique medium in which modern, neoliberal discourses of motherhood are created, circulated, and maintained through digital, visual, and social platforms. These discourses have the power to circulate continuously and with amazing frequency and intensity, reverberating through the lives of women in ways that have created serious and lasting affective investments. Modern motherhood, and whether one is “doing” it correctly, is made visible and available at all times through social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. In these spaces, mothers can “witness” each other’s plights, surveil themselves and others, and choose to emulate or reject the seemingly thousands of renditions of motherhood that all really boil down to one hegemonic ideal. In this dissertation, I argue that the new virtual cult of motherhood and domesticity are mediated through the unique temporal, digital, and material space of social media. Social media platforms are important rhetorical forms and trendy sites for the exchange of ideas, products, and services between mothers, as nearly all processes and experiences of life have the potential to be created, compared, copied, and commodified. I illustrate how social media provides the conduit and conditions to continually strengthen these discourses of perfection and personal responsibility that are heaped on the shoulders of mothers in an effort to optimize experiences and achieve “supermom” status. I am particularly interested in analyzing social media as a rhetorical form through a critical feminist lens. I illuminate the ways in which neoliberalism, postfeminism, and social media are converging and transforming the work of motherhood, aspirational labor, and the third shift. A rhetorical approach to social media discourse, affect, feminism, and neoliberalism will reveal the tensions and contradictions that characterize contemporary motherhood in the U.S.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Womens studies|Web Studies

Recommended Citation

Rome, Jennifer Marie, "Exploring Constructions of “Good” Motherhood on Social Media: Navigating Neoliberal Mommy Rhetorics and the Negative Affective Entanglements of Women’s Discourses on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27836185.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI27836185

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