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Mothers, communities and the scale of difference

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Only recently did geographic concern turn to why and how, and when and where political identities are reproduced but, as yet, our understanding of the political relations between families and communities remains understudied. This lack of attention is attributable, in part, to the complexities of families and communities but, this aside, all societies regulate reproduction and there are always claims for legitimization of particular views of family values and community relations. With this paper, I argue that highlighting the social construction of scale suggests ways that the social imaginary of a domestic myth is spatially embedded within a nurturing local community. I outline some recent feminist discussion of local childcare cultures and critique of 'the public sphere' prior to raising scale as a way to open up static versions of justice and difference. Arguments in the paper that relate to the social construction of scale are illustrated by examples from a study of the impact of a new child and a residential move on mothers in San Diego. I argue that although the birth of a child highlights important questions that relate to responsibility, self-identity and notions of family, community and society, it is from within a politically structured notion of scale that many of the constraints and contexts of childcare arise. This paper focuses specifically on negotiating childcare as a basis of resistance through day-to-day contestations at multiple scales.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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