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Ethos

Fun Morality Reconsidered: Mothering and the Relational Contours of Maternal–Child Play in U.S. Working Family Life

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Abstract

Abstract Drawing on videotaped family interactional data, I consider Martha Wolfenstein's psychoanalytically informed conception of “fun morality” in the context of contemporary U.S. maternal–child relations. I highlight how U.S. middle-class mothers and children craft imaginative interludes that cultivate valued aspects of personhood and relationality. Cooperative, prosocial behaviors are modeled and elicited alongside individualized self-expression to constitute coexisting values in U.S. middle-class life. Analysis contributes to discussion of situated engagement in moral life by delineating how mothers take up preferred cultural models of mothering as they simultaneously mentor children's moral experiences, behaviors, and worldviews amid circumstances of daily life. [mothering, morality, children, play, family, United States]

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