Mothering and Work, Mothering as Work

Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications

Online public event


Jess Brammar

Jess Brammar

Professor Sarah Knott

Professor Sarah Knott

Professor Shani Orgad

Professor Shani Orgad


Professor Wendy Sigle

Professor Wendy Sigle

In this event we will grapple with past and present experiences of mothering. How can we tell a story of maternal labour in the past, in the absence of data? What does it mean to study mothering today, in the context of intensified neoliberalism? How does mothering enter the radar of policymakers? And what is the relationship between these questions and how we study them in contemporary academia?

Mothering experiences were almost entirely absent from public discourse in Britain and North America until around the 1970s, when the Women’s Liberation Movement directed long-overdue attention to mothering and maternal labour. Today, on the other hand, mothering is impossible to miss. Motherhood, mothering and mothers are the objects considerable attention: in memoirs, advice and self-help guides; in magazines, popular television and film; across a range of online platforms, and in policy debates about work-life balance, parenting and gender equality in the workplace. Historian Sarah Knott and sociologist Shani Orgad will discuss these topics, drawing on their rich work on mothering and reflecting on their different approaches to studying it.

Meet our speakers and chair

Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) is the Editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK. She was previously Deputy Editor of BBC Newsnight, and led the programme's award-winning coverage of the Grenfell Tower disaster and other major news events. Prior to that she was a news producer at ITN, after beginning her career at BBC Question Time. She obtained her undergraduate degree in international history from LSE. Jess has recently returned to work from maternity leave.

Sarah Knott (@knott_sarah) is Sally M. Reahard Professor of History at Indiana University and a Fellow of the Kinsey Institute. Among other publications, she is the author of Mother: An Unconventional History (2019) and co-editor of Mothering's Many Labours (2021). Sarah has served as an editor of the American Historical Review, the American Historical Association's flagship journal, and sits on the editorial board of Past and Present. She has held many fellowships including from the Andrew Mellon foundation, the Rothermere American Institute, and the Oxford Centre for Life Writing.

Shani Orgad is Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Shani's research interests include gender, inequality, migration, feminism and media narratives. She is the author of numerous journal articles, blogs, and five books including: The Confidence Cult(ure) (with Rosalind Gill, forthcoming, Duke University Press), Heading Home: Motherhood, Work, and the Failed Promise of Equality (2019, Columbia University Press), Caring in Crisis? Humanitarianism, the Public and NGOs (with Bruna Seu, 2017, Palgrave), Media Representation and the Global Imagination (2012, Polity) and Storytelling Online: Talking Breast Cancer on the Internet (2005, Peter Lang).

You can order the book, Heading Home: motherhood, work, and the failed promise of equality, (UK delivery only) from our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney.

Wendy Sigle is Professor of Gender and Family Studies at the Department of Gender Studies. She has worked on a variety of issues related to families and family policy in historical and contemporary societies.

More about this event

The Department of Media and Communications (@MediaLSE) is a world-leading centre for education and research in communication and media studies at the heart of LSE’s academic community in central London. The Department is ranked #1 in the UK and #3 globally in the field of media and communications (2020 QS World University Rankings).

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEMedia

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Mothering and Work, Mothering as Work.

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