Integrated Motherhood: Beyond Hegemonic Ideologies of Motherhood

Dawn Marie Dow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Existing research assumes that hegemonic mothering ideologies influence U.S. mothers' work and family decisions. These ideologies assume that childrearing is a mother's duty, that mothering occurs within a self-sufficient nuclear family, and that paid employment conflicts with motherhood. Even when mothers do not conform to these ideologies, scholars find that they continue to influence mothers, as exhibited by mothers' efforts to reframe, redefine, or actively reject the ideal. This study expands on research that challenges the dominant influence of these ideologies on all mothers. Through analyzing the accounts of 24 middle- and upper-middle-class African American mothers employed in professional careers, three different cultural expectations about motherhood emerged. Participants assumed that they should work outside of the home, be financially self-reliant, and use kin and community members as child caregivers. Together, these cultural expectations form the basis of an alternative ideology of mothering that the author terms integrated mothering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • African Americans
  • Child care
  • Families and work
  • Motherhood
  • Qualitative research and gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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