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Culture and motherhood: findings from a qualitative study of East Asian mothers in Britain

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This article focuses on the possible impacts of Confucianism on the experiences of middle-class East Asian women with dependent children in Britain. By using the concept of 'intersectionality', it aims to understand the ways in which mothering identity intersects with class and East Asian cultural identity in the British context, and how identities emerge through this interaction. The study was based on in-depth interview data collected from 20 first-generation East Asian mothers living in Britain, and suggests that East Asian mothers in this study appear to share a discernible trace of Confucianism, including a strong emphasis on education, alongside a high value placed on seniority, and children as a mother's possession. These Confucian values were portrayed by the interviewees as salient in constructing their mothering identities. Simultaneously, however, certain aspects of British culture were also perceived to be significant in their mothering, in that they appeared to provide the interviewees with opportunities to question and modify their cultural values.
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Keywords: BRITISH CULTURE; CONFUCIANISM; EAST ASIAN IDENTITY; INTERSECTIONALITY; MOTHERING IDENTITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November, 2012

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