Dominant social, cultural, and professional discourses view motherhood as the core of a woman's identity. Thus, the identity of women who do not meet the general expectations of motherhood might be negatively affected. Specifically, mothers who are welfare clients may violate the prevailing norms concerning the maternal role. This qualitative study explores how Israeli mothers who are welfare clients construct their maternal identity. Studies of mothers who are clients of welfare services suggest that they feel blamed for being “bad” or “unfit” mothers. However, women occasionally negotiate or challenge the negative perceptions that are forced on them by hegemonic discourses of motherhood. We postulate that such women experience a troubled maternal identity that they negotiate through interactions with others. Accordingly, this study set to explore how Israeli mothers who are welfare clients negotiate their maternal identity in the context of motherhood and welfare discourses. Fourteen participants were interviewed, and the findings illustrate the vulnerability of the mothers and their strategies to construct a positive maternal identity. We discuss the findings in light of the concept of troubled identity.
- maternal identity
- mothers who are welfare clients
- social work
- troubled identity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Sociology and Political Science