Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Otherland: accounts of ordinary childless/freeness on Mumsnet

    Hall, Melanie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5657-0278 and van Hooff, Jenny ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8735-8758 (2023) Otherland: accounts of ordinary childless/freeness on Mumsnet. Families, Relationships and Societies: an international journal of research and debate. ISSN 2046-7435

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    There has been an increase in the number of individuals who do not have children for various reasons, whether health, choice or circumstance, as well as those who have children later in the life course. Concurrently, there is a moral panic surrounding the decreasing birth rate.  A thematic analysis of posts on the parenting forum Mumsnet explores the significance of childless/freeness, in the context of wider relationships. We find that established categories of ‘mother’ and ‘childless/free’ are reductive, and are more porous than usually framed. We consider the impact of such categories on women's friendships, finding that they undermine potential solidarities. Drawing on Scott (2019), we conceptualise the absence of children as significant, but not necessarily a deficit, highlighting the potential to understand childless/freeness in the everyday.

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