Mothers, Mizrahi, and Poor: Contentious Media Framings of Mothers’ Movements

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Taking an intersectional approach, this chapter makes a theoretical and empirical contribution to the study of mothers’ movements in the context of social welfare cutbacks in Israel. I argue that the political use of the maternal identity provides an important cultural resource to women’s social movements, yet all women cannot access this advantage equally. By adding an intersectional perspective to the literature on women’s movements and media debates, this empirical study shows that the ability of different groups of women to politically mobilize their maternal identity in the news is impacted by their class and racial backgrounds. I focus on Israel as an ambiguous case that reflects both the political relevance of maternal identity as mobilized by different political actors, as well as the intersectional dynamics of marginalization of women’s movements within contentious media debates about austerity policies. Using critical discourse analysis, I analyzed 268 newspaper articles that discuss the Israeli Single Mothers’ Movement, a welfare rights movement of low-income women of color (Mizrahi). I find two competing frames converging across the newspapers analyzed: the first draws on a nationalist discourse of the “mother of the nation” to present a positive image of a heroic “mothers’ movement”; the second draws on racist and sexist images to negatively frame activists as a “Mizrahi movement” of undeserving poor mothers. I show how the contested construction of the Single Mothers’ Movement in the news media is directly connected to hegemonic Israeli discourse on motherhood and ethnicity, and demonstrate how this shapes the movement’s public image and its political and feminist value.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftResearch in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
ISSN0163-786X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2014

ID: 228532104