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

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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.
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Keywords: EATING DISORDERS; HAPPINESS; MOTHERING; NEOLIBERALISM

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected] 3: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 2014

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