Author:Kinga Pozniak (University of Western Ontario)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the neoliberal ideologies about motherhood produced by, and disseminated through, Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs).
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines how neoliberal philosophies are worked out, domesticated and negotiated in one of the most intimate domains of everyday life: motherhood. Specifically, it focuses on the discourses about motherhood produced by, and disseminated through, Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs). OEYCs are government funded institutions that serve as umbrella spaces for many public health initiatives targeted at mothers with young children; thus, they are important instruments of state production and reproduction of ideas about what it means to be a (good) mother. These include the values of individuality and independence, the reliance on "expert knowledge," and an emphasis on "technologies of the self" through which mothers are expected to enterprise and optimize themselves. The paper then attends to the role of the OEYC employees (the "experts") in perpetuating these norms. Finally, it considers the ways in which mothers themselves selectively adopt or reject these discourses. This research stems from my own participant observation in various OEYC workshops and activities, as both a mother and an anthropologist.