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Mothers Unite!

Mothers Unite!: Organizing for Workplace Flexibility and the Transformation of Family Life

Jocelyn Elise Crowley
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Cornell University Press,
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Mothers Unite!
    Book Description:

    In Mothers Unite!, a bold and hopeful new rallying cry for changing the relationship between home and the workplace, Jocelyn Elise Crowley envisions a genuine, universal world of workplace flexibility that helps mothers who stay at home, those who work part time, and those who work full time balance their commitments to their jobs and their families. Achieving this goal, she argues, will require a broad-based movement that harnesses the energy of existing organizations of mothers that already support workplace flexibility in their own ways.

    Crowley examines the efforts of five diverse national mothers' organizations: Mocha Moms, which aims to assist mothers of color; Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), which stresses the promotion of Christian values; Mothers & More, which emphasizes support for those moving in and out of the paid workforce; MomsRising, which focuses on online political advocacy; and the National Association of Mothers' Centers (NAMC), which highlights community-based networking. After providing an engaging and detailed account of the history, membership profiles, strategies, and successes of each of these organizations, Crowley suggests actions that will allow greater workplace flexibility to become a viable reality and points to many opportunities to promote intergroup mobilization and unite mothers once and for all.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6745-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 American Mothers, American Troubles
    (pp. 1-19)

    Michelle Obamaʹs story is, in many ways, a common one: that of the modern American middle-class mother. Each part of her tale resonates with some trace of who we were in the past and who we are now. That is, some of us can relate to the young woman, fresh out of school, trying to make a name for herself in the competitive professional world. Others are drawn to her quest to fulfill her true passions, whether they be in the corporate or nonprofit world. Still others focus on, ponder, celebrate, and critique her decision to devote herself to her...

  5. 2 Power in Numbers
    (pp. 20-46)

    In November 2008, these Mocha Moms members were clearly excited. Barack Obama had just been elected president, and they viewed this as a teachable moment for their children and their communities. Most important, they wanted to harness the momentum of the event to produce positive outcomes for their group chapters and beyond. But clearly this group was not starting from zero in terms of resources. There was decisive energy in the room and a strong sense of sisterhood among its members. This was a group with a vibrant and engaged history.

    How did mothersʹ organizations like Mocha Moms—specifically MOPS,...

  6. 3 Why Join?
    (pp. 47-69)

    MOPS is a cherished part of mothersʹ lives across the country, as this particular snapshot of the group clearly illustrates. What benefits do members of MOPS and other mothersʹ organizations derive from belonging to these groups, what are their most pressing concerns, and how do the groups help alleviate the challenges presented by motherhood and paid work? Most important, what role can the organizations play in potentially influencing the public debate on workplace flexibility?

    Regardless of all mothersʹ groupsʹ stated missions, organizational structures, and listed activities, local chapters of these groups have significant autonomy in shaping their own character. That...

  7. 4 Do Mommy War Attitudes Prevent Organizing?
    (pp. 70-94)

    What does it mean to be the perfect mother in American society today? Is there such a thing as a perfect mother? Did these Mothers & More members seem to have the answers? Why is it that most mothers want to achieve this goal of parenting without errors? How do they believe they should best organize their lives to maximize their potential as mothers? What is the role of paid work in being the ʺperfectʺ mother? Does it help mothers achieve their goals or thwart them? Do mothers hold such strong views on this topic that organizations may be unwilling to...

  8. 5 Workplace Flexibility Options
    (pp. 95-142)

    The two mothers at the NAMC meeting are clearly not alone in representing the complicated issues facing American families today. Both described the rewards they experienced while working full time at satisfying careers that they truly loved. Interestingly, however, both noted that their jobs were extremely inflexible. There was no way to get around the nonstop demands of their employers, co-workers, and clients. After they had their children, through a process of careful consideration, they decided to remain at home. Yet they were confused by their new lives. In many ways they gradually adjusted, but they were left wondering if...

  9. 6 Are We in a Movement Now? Can We Get There?
    (pp. 143-173)

    The clear majority of this set of MomsRising members, as demonstrated in the online discussion excerpted above, clearly believed that they are participating in a new type of mothersʹ movement, or a social movement based on their identities as mothers. In this online exchange, members not only expressed support for the idea that they are part of a mothersʹ movement but also honed in on how their mothersʹ movement differed from political campaigns of the past, which focused on such issues as health, education, reproduction, financial well-being, breastfeeding, substance abuse, and gun violence, as described in chapter 1. Instead, these...

  10. 7 Mothers Need Leadership, Too
    (pp. 174-192)

    At the historic first White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility in 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama brought her own personal struggles of balancing work and family once again into the limelight of national politics. Since she and her husband confront the challenges of these issues daily, she felt particularly drawn and even compelled to move their private discussions about these matters into the public forum. The conference brought together people with different perspectives on these issues, including business leaders, labor organizers, academic experts, and even the president himself. The commonality that they all had was a keen interest in exchanging...

  11. Appendix: Research Methodology
    (pp. 193-208)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-220)
  13. Index
    (pp. 221-228)