Digitally mediated motherhood during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The lockdowns and self-isolation measures put in place in response to Covid 19 have pushed us further into digital spaces in order to connect. Social media platforms and apps have become communicative lifelines as the temporal rhythms of daily life are disrupted in unprecedented ways. For mothers, online networks have long been important cultural domains for exchanging information, seeking support and confiding fears. The current absence of face to face support has meant that online communities have become arenas in which new dynamics and stresses of motherhood are being articulated and played out. They afford mothers spaces of solace and solidarity, enabling them to share anxieties over home-schooling, finances and the burden of care in the face of the pandemic. However, multiple platforms and channels of communication have also created new demands and expectations and thrown up stark inequalities.This chapter will argue that social media, as well as being an invaluable source of social support, has become a fourth shift of emotional labour. As the first, second (Hochschild 2012) and third (O'Reilly 2010) shifts of motherhood have been intensified by the physical and emotional demands of managing the lockdown family, online networks occupy an uneasy space as a fourth shift of pandemic motherhood. The solidarity they provide is tempered by new kinds of hyper-connectivity, contradictory discourses and competing realities.The chapter draws on data across a range of social media platforms to argue that tracing digitally mediated motherhood makes visible the ways in which virtual support both augments and undermines the shared experience of motherhood in the Covid 19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMothers, Mothering, and COVID-19
Subtitle of host publication Dispatches from a Pandemic
EditorsAndrea O'Reilly, Fiona Joy Green
Place of PublicationBradford, ON
PublisherDemeter Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781772583434
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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