Mums, Dummies and ‘Dirty Dids’: The Dummy as a Symbolic Representation of Mothering?
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
© 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2007 National Children's Bureau
Children & Society
Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 278–290, July 2008
How to Cite
Whitmarsh, J. (2008), Mums, Dummies and ‘Dirty Dids’: The Dummy as a Symbolic Representation of Mothering?. Children & Society, 22: 278–290. doi: 10.1111/j.1099-0860.2007.00082.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Accepted for publication 13 December 2006
The bio medical expert literature, although contested, associates the use of dummies, soothers or pacifiers, with illness, dental malformation, impaired speech and language, and working-class mothering. This article suggests this negative perspective has filtered, via experts and the media, into public narratives of ‘good’ mothering. Interviews with 20 disadvantaged mothers demonstrate the complex negotiations undertaken to integrate dummy use into their personal ‘good-mothering’ narratives. Representing their hitherto ignored voices in the dummy debate allows a consideration of the context of, and influences on, dummy use. The article argues that rather than a symbol of inadequate working-class mothering, dummy use is a complex, highly negotiated, situated mothering practice.