TCRU-CNR graduate seminar, 3.5.16: Storying Mothering Online

Dr Heather Elliot, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education

 Storying Mothering Online 

Tuesday 3rd May 2016, 5 – 6.30pm

The Library, Thomas Coram Research Unit

27 – 28 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA 

All welcome, particularly graduate students.

This paper considers how mothering and family life is storied online. It considers what is new (if anything) about the work.

The phenomenon of ‘mummyblogging’ has emerged as a means of documenting and sharing mothering practices and families’ lives, and of developing communities of interest as well as commercial opportunities.

It has been argued that the blogosphere has provided space for collective writing about mothering and support but also a resurgence in repressive and narrow ideas about how women mother. Women who blog about mothering are more likely than other bloggers to disclose personal information: indeed such disclosure is valued as a marker of ‘authenticity’, building credibility among online mothering communities and enhancing marketability. These new ways of making mothering public are in line with recent trends towards confessional writing about motherhood.

Drawing on narrative case studies involving analyses of blog posts and interviews with bloggers I consider the dilemmas bloggers face in telling stories about themselves and their family, particularly their children in public.

Taking a doubled look at ethics of public representation, I discuss my own dilemmas in working ‘beyond anonymization’, turning blogs into research data, illustrating the impossibility of ever knowing what is at stake for the teller, even in apparently innocuous online stories.

Dr Heather Elliott is a researcher at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, at UCL’s Institute of Education. She has interests in the psycho-social, narrative, mothering and work and in children’s imaginaries. Recent publications include:

Elliott, H and Squire, C (2016, forthcoming)  ‘Narratives of normativity, transgression and reformulation: How mothers’ blogs frame mothering, family and food in resource constrained times’ Forum for Qualitative Research as part of Special Issue on ‘Narrative Media and Ways of Knowing’ (Elliott, H and Squire, C (eds)).

Brannen, J.; Elliott, H. and Phoenix, A. (2016) ‘Narratives of success among Irish and African Caribbean migrants’  Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Her novel, Paradise Rocks, has been longlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse prize for children’s fiction.

For further details please contact Corinne Squire at

Details are also on the CNR website


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