Mothering from the inside: narratives of motherhood and imprisonment
Two thirds of the 4,000 women who are in prison in England and Wales are mothers of dependent children. Imprisonment can severely alter, disrupt or even terminate mothering. However, there is a relative absence of empirical research within this area. Therefore, we know little of the meaning of mothering and motherhood for women in prison. The main aim of this research was to explore the way in which women in prison make sense of motherhood and construct their mothering identity.\ud \ud To achieve this, the analytical framework of biographical disruption was adopted and adapted; replacing chronic illness as the critical event with imprisonment. The study was underpinned by a narrative methodology to focus upon the ways in which the narratives of mothers in prison are constructed/ reconstructed and presented.\ud \ud In depth narrative interviews were conducted with 16 women. The interviews lasted between forty five minutes and three hours. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and then analysed using the Listening Guide. On the basis of those interviews, three different narratives were constructed, the Wounded Mother, the Unbecoming Mother and the Suspended Mother.\ud \ud The findings of this research illustrate that the relationship between imprisonment and biographical disruption is multi-faceted. Mothering identities can be fundamentally threatened, yet can also be reinforced. This research has also highlighted that it is often the compounding impact of repeated disruptions, culminating in prison that represents the most profound disruption to the mothering identities of women in prison. The implications of the research for policy and practice are also considered.
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