Mothering While Black
Boundaries and Burdens of Middle-Class Parenthood
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Mothering While Black examines the complex lives of the African American middle class—in particular, black mothers and the strategies they use to raise their children to maintain class status while simultaneously defining and protecting their children’s “authentically black” identities. Sociologist Dawn Marie Dow shows how the frameworks typically used to research middle-class families focus on white mothers’ experiences, inadequately capturing the experiences of African American middle- and upper-middle-class mothers. These limitations become apparent when Dow considers how these mothers apply different parenting strategies for black boys and for black girls, and how they navigate different expectations about breadwinning and childrearing from the African American community. At the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, work, family, and culture, Mothering While Black sheds light on the exclusion of African American middle-class mothers from the dominant cultural experience of middle-class motherhood. In doing so, it reveals the painful truth of the decisions that black mothers must make to ensure the safety, well-being, and future prospects of their children.
Praise For Mothering While Black: Boundaries and Burdens of Middle-Class Parenthood…
"Dow is extremely adept at patiently walking the reader through the intricacies of her claims and in substantiating her research methodology. This is particularly useful for students and lay people unfamiliar with theory and methods. She also makes it easy for black women and families to find themselves within her typology and the market-family matrix . . . [that] will help establish Dow as a solid figure in the area of race, gender, and family studies."
— Gender and Society
"The text is illustrative, rooted in narratives from her sample, and reflexive in the organization and development of these narratives. Taken together, the author successfully intervenes in scholarship about mothering and work–family experiences, adding to established perspectives the experience of middle-class African American women."
— Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
"This important research demands a reconceptualization of how we study family and work more broadly. Dow has successfully demonstrated how external forces related to the intersectionality of gender, race, and class must be considered when explaining internal family decisions about parenting strategies and work."
— American Journal of Sociology
University of California Press, 9780520300323, 272pp.
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
About the Author
Dawn Marie Dow is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Faculty Associate at the Maryland Population Research Center.