'What are you feeling right now?': communities of maternal feeling on Mumsnet.
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PEDERSEN, S. and LUPTON, D. 2016. 'What are you feeling right now?': communities of maternal feeling on Mumsnet. Emotion, space and society [online], Articles in Press. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2016.05.001
In this article, we present an analysis of how communities of maternal feeling are configured by users on the discussion boards of Mumsnet, a popular British online parenting forum. A search was conducted to find threads with the phrase ‘I feel’ in the title. The first 100 threads in the search results using this term that referred to emotions – almost all of which articulated negative feelings – were then analysed. We argue that forums like Mumsnet provide an important anonymous space where women can talk openly about emotions. In doing so, feeling rules related to ‘good motherhood’ are established and reproduced. Members of Mumsnet tolerate some expression of feelings such as ambivalence, resentment, anxiety and anger and often provide empathy and friendly support in response. However, the expression of negative maternal feeling is tolerated only to a certain degree. Those posters who go beyond this boundary are positioned as exceeding the norm and requiring professional help. Forums such as Mumsnet often serve to support rather than challenge the political status quo in their emphasis on self-responsibility, personal choice and therapeutic solutions to what are positioned as private problems.