Myths and monsters: Challenging assumptions of poor working-class motherhood through feminist research

Victoria Foster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Once upon a time there was a she-monster. She lived submerged 20,000 feet under the sea, and was only a legend, until one day the scientists got together to fish her out. They hauled her ashore and loaded her on trucks and finally set her down in a vast amphitheatre where they began their dissection. It soon became evident that the creature was pregnant. They alerted security and sealed all the doors, being responsible men and unwilling to take chances with the monster’s whelps, for who could know what damage they might do if unleashed on the world… Suniti Namjoshi (1993, p. 31) This chapter focuses on the ways in which a feminist approach to research can challenge hegemonic understandings of poor working-class mothers. Enmeshed relations between knowledge and power, hegemonic, “common-sense” understandings, and the state’s involvement in families’ lives form an oppressive net, which has long held such women in its snare. For the past several decades, feminist research has provided a means of unraveling these affairs and examining the invisible bonds that continue to constrain large sections of the population. The chapter explores how feminisms have shaped my work in terms of knowledge production and in challenging commonly held assumptions. This ethnographic research with poor working-class mothers at a Sure Start program in the United Kingdom provides an illustrative example.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeminisms in Social Work Research
Subtitle of host publicationPromise and Possibilities for Justice-Based Knowledge
EditorsStephanie Wahab, Ben Anderson-Nathe, Christina Gringeri
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781134589777
ISBN (Print)9780415707114
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Social Work


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