Boxed up? Lunchboxes and expansive mothering outside home
This article unpacks the experiences of 30 British women making lunchboxes for their children, and their opposition to opting for school dinners. Findings emerging from photo-elicitation interviews and focus group discussions show how mothers consider themselves the only social actor able to make a ‘proper lunchbox’. School dinners are considered a risky option for their children, and fathers’ interference in preparing lunchboxes is viewed with suspicion. The article shows how lunchboxes can be viewed as an expansion of intensive mothering: a way of making home away from home, stretching the intensive domestic care used for toddlers to school-aged children. Expansive mothering is characterised by mothers’ mediating role that places them between the child and the outside world. This role is mainly performed as a risk management activity aimed at recreating the domestic security outside the home, yet it also reinforces the message that feeding children is a mother’s domain.
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