Economy’s gaze: childhood, motherhood and ‘exemplary ordinariness’ in popular parenting magazines

Saltmarsh, Sue and North, Anna (2011) Economy’s gaze: childhood, motherhood and ‘exemplary ordinariness’ in popular parenting magazines. Global Studies of Childhood, 1 (4). pp. 314-320. ISSN 2043-6106


Images of children and representations of childhood experience are ubiquitous in contemporary popular culture. Books, films, television shows, advertisements, magazines, posters, computer games, websites – to name but a few examples – construct and reiterate multiple ways
through which childhood is to be understood and undergone, regulated and recuperated, managed and maintained. In this article, the authors consider how one textual form, that of popular magazines, constructs childhood as an economic category ideally characterised by what they term ‘exemplary
ordinariness’. The article analyses magazine cover images from Australia, the United States and Canada, and argues that images and written text together oblige parents to ensure that normative childhood experience is secured through exemplary parenting practices. Further, the authors argue that parents – and in particular, mothers – are incited to performatively produce their own exemplary
ordinariness through attention to their own personal beauty, individual accomplishment and parenting
practices. Their argument is informed by visual and cultural theories, and underpinned by the view
that economic discourse formulates a gaze to which both childhood and parenthood are subjected. This is not to imply a reification of ‘the economy’, but rather it is to acknowledge the constitutive force of economic discourse and to interrogate its prominence in the images, rhetorics and practices of everyday life.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2017 23:51
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2017 06:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: childhood, parenthood, motherhood, exemplary ordinariness; parenting magazines
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200104 Media Studies
13 Education > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200203 Consumption and Everyday Life
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication
Identification Number or DOI: 10.2304/gsch.2011.1.4.314

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