The possibilities of happiness: Australian mothers' aspirations for their children in neoliberal times

Catherine HARTUNG, Jan WRIGHT, Christine Margaret HALSE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Within the context of neoliberal times, mothers are said to be increasingly monitoring their children's lives. Yet, the extent to which neoliberalism can explain mothers' aspirations for their children remains unclear. This article explores how 26 Australian mothers, half of whom had a child with an eating disorder, spoke about happiness in regards to their aspirations for their children. We argue that the mothers resist materialistic aspirations for their children by privileging their child's happiness, defined as a selection of inner qualities that their children can possess. While all the mothers were aspirational about their children's future happiness, happiness to mothers with a child with an eating disorder was more moderate and viewed as a way of protecting their children. Further, privileging these inner qualities of happiness brings its own limitations. We highlight the contextual nature of happiness, arguing for a more nuanced understanding of family circumstances in neoliberal times. Copyright © 2014 Policy Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Citation

Hartung, C., Wright, J., & Halse, C. (2014). The possibilities of happiness: Australian mothers' aspirations for their children in neoliberal times. Families, Relationships and Societies, 3(1), 67-78.

Keywords

  • Eating disorders
  • Happiness
  • Mothering
  • Neoliberalism

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