The Practice of Mothering: An Introduction



Abstract This special issue demonstrates the value of close examinations of mothering as actually practiced by particular mothers in particular circumstances. The articles in this issue analyze instances of mothering in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, China, and the United States and are followed by commentary from leaders in the field about what might be learned by attending to such everyday practices. These ethnographic studies extend lines of research within psychological anthropology that have focused on mothers as socializers, by drawing on contemporary developments, including those concerned with schema theory, psychodynamic and intersubjective processes, the interpenetrations of political-economies and domestic relations, feminist perspectives, and questions of agency in the lives of women and children. This examination of projects, processes, and practices of mothering affords insights into a range of related questions concerning human nature, processes of enculturation and socialization, individual agency and lived worlds, cultural patterning and change. [mothering, practice, child socialization, cross-cultural child development, psychological anthropology]