Book review

Passionate mothering and its discontents

Mothers Work-life balance

Review Details
Date: 8 February 2013
Author: Julie Stephens
Publisher: Australian Review of Public Affairs (ARPA)
Owning Institution(s): The University of Sydney

Book Details
Title: Women Who Opt Out: The Debate Over Working Mothers and Work-Family Balance
Publisher: New York University Press: New York
Date Published: 2012
Author/s: Bernie D. Jones (ed)

Additional Books: 
Title: The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke

Is balancing work and family overbalanced in favour of work? In a culture anxious about care and dependency, it has become very easy to dismiss maternal attentiveness and nurture as excessive. While in our working lives, no amount of energy and effort expended at work ever seems enough, for mothers, any passionate display of maternal care that displaces the centrality of paid work appears to be ‘too much’. Is it really possible that the social meaning of a woman deliberately ‘not working’ has changed to such an extent that it is seen as bordering on the abnormal? Linked by their sharp critique of many issues in the dominant debates about work and care, both inside and outside the home are two very different, but complementary, books: Women Who Opt Out: The Debate Over Working Mothers and Work-Family Balance, edited by Bernie D. Jones, and Lisa Smyth’s study of The Demands of Motherhood: Agents, Roles and Recognition.

Image © Micha Fleuren |

Publication Details