Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Weaving Work and Motherhood

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Weaving Work and Motherhood

Article excerpt

Weaving Work and Motherhood. Anita Ilta Garey. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1999. 239 pp. ISBN 1-56639-700-6. $59.50 cloth, $19.95 paper.

Weaving Work & Motherhood is an engaging challenge to conventional "orientation" approaches to work or motherhood, offering instead the metaphor of weaving. Beginning with the experiences of 37 mothers employed at a hospital, Anita Ilta Garey's goal is to understand "what it means to be a worker with children and a mother at work."

Garey favors the metaphor of weaving as a way to "step back and view the whole, to think of the fabric of a life, the strength of the weave, and the intricacy of design. It reminds us not to get lost in the close examination of one moment or one strand, and to remember that moments and strands are parts of the weave but not the weave itself. Work, family, friendships, reflection, vocation, and recreation are parts of a person's life. They are not separately and on their own, the life or the person" (p. 192).

Rather than decide a priori how to group the women, she provides a convincing argument for letting the stories reveal relevant categories. Hers "is a study of an actual group of workers in a particular place at a particular time-and the diversity of the group is represented in the interviews" (p. 18). Work schedules were organizing structures reflected in the chapter titles: "Calling the Shots" or voluntary part-time worker, "A Foot in the Door" or involuntary part-time worker, "Motherhood on the Night Shift," "Nine to Five: A Collection of Days," and "Sequencing: Patterns over the Life Course." Women's stories bracket the chapters, providing the reader with evidence of the similarities and differences between and within the groups. Garey organizes these complex and seemingly unique experiences into common struggles shaped by ideologies and social structures that restrict an integrated mother-worker life.

The concept "strategies of being" explains how employed mothers make sense of their lives, regardless of how others might see them. …

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