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Accepted Contribution:

From mothers to cyborgs: exploring digital motherhood in Latvia's online community  
Janis Sabanovs (Rīga Stradiņš University)

Short abstract:

This paper explores the construction and evolution of motherhood in Latvia within the digital realm of the “Atsaucīgo māmiņu forums” (“Responsive Mummy Forum”). It delves into how the group's members navigate the complexities of motherhood through the lenses of digital media.

Long abstract:

Motherhood is a deeply rooted societal role that has been traditionally defined by long-established norms. However, in Latvia, the contours of motherhood are being redrawn within the virtual walls of the “Responsive Mummy Forum” (RMF) on Facebook. This study examines the forum as a dynamic space where the role of motherhood is continuously constructed, challenged, and reaffirmed through social media interactions.

By employing a multi-methodological approach, including qualitative text analysis, semi-structured interviews, autoethnography, and participant observation, the research uncovers how the RMF serves as a pivotal site for the expression and negotiation of maternal roles. It highlights how individuals, through their digital engagement, contribute to the ever-evolving narrative of what it means to be a mother in contemporary Latvia. The paper discusses the paradoxes of digital motherhood that surface, such as the dichotomy of responsiveness versus unresponsiveness, and the capitalization and commodification of the maternal role.

Through the RMF, Latvian mothers navigate a landscape that oscillates between reinforcing traditional norms and fostering new, alternative modes of community and support. This paper argues that the RMF not only reflects the fluid nature of motherhood but also acts as a catalyst for broader discussions on the impact of digital spaces on traditional societal roles.

I propose that the RMF's digital environment acts as an interface for constructing a cyborg-like identity of motherhood—a hybrid of human and technological elements—that is indicative of broader societal transformations in the digital age.

Combined Format Open Panel P272
Making and doing relationships with AI, cyborgs, robots
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -