The paper seeks to recuperate autonomy within debates around identity as the discursive construction of self through exploring the ‘greening’ of intensive mothering discourse and the emergence of new subject positions and practices of accountability. It argues that facets of ideologies of ethical and sustainable consumption are inscribed within this discourse, authorising identity work and furnishing everyday provisioning routines with significance and urgency; and that related social practices that are marked for ‘greening’ diligence or negligence are not merely situated and productive, but transformative of mothering identities, roles and norms. We report the findings of a study of a group of professional working mothers as they negotiate competing and conflictual spaces of doing ‘green’ mothering. This opens an analytical window on the diversity of signifying practices that characterise how informants play with boundaries and ambiguity in creative ways, using images of responsible consumption and sustainable living to negotiate appeals to social well-being while authorising claims to ‘greening’ competence. Our interviews capture discursive events that rearticulate social messages, mixing them with brand appeals and media content that situate the invention of ‘new’ mothering with regard to flows of ‘greening’ discourse. Inventive appeals and related subject positions speak of a repertoire of strategic messaging practices, themselves consistent with a heightened reflexivity shaping content and presentation through practices we understand as modes of neutralisation – forms of self-governance and accountability that seek to generate resources of resilience that help reinforce green mothering identity claims made to self and others. Through socialising ‘sustainability’ in this way, we contribute to our understanding of the social surrogacy of brands and its problematics.
- green mothering
- ethical and sustainable consumption
- everyday practice