• Doing what ‘Works Best’: Exploring the Narratives of Mothers who Work as Strippers

      Annett, Michelle Lesley; Department of Sociology
      Despite a large body of research exploring the experiences of working mothers today, there is little literature focusing on mothers who take part in stigmatized and unconventional forms of paid labour. Taking up this line of inquiry, my MA thesis project explores both micro and macro-level understandings of the narrated experiences of four women in Canada, who are both mothers and exotic dancers, with the overarching question: ‘how do these women navigate and negotiate their socially constructed identities and practices as both mothers and sex workers?’. This thesis is informed by feminist methodologies and a broad array of literatures on social reproduction, social surveillance of mothering practices, the intensification of mothering, women working in the sex industry, and occupational stigma of exotic dancing. My research consisted of four semi-structured phone interviews with women in Canada (all in the province of Ontario) who have (either currently or in the past) navigated both roles of mothering and stripping simultaneously. Through my interviews, I explored how the women in my study negotiated the work of social reproduction, the forms of support they had access to, and the barriers they have faced. My findings illuminate that due to limited access to affordable services in Canada, the mothers I interviewed rely on informal assistance from their key supports to provide necessary care work that the mothers could not fulfill due to the responsibilities of their paid work. Mothers also stress the necessity of managing their occupational stigma to comply with dominant ideologies of maternal caregiving by constructing personal communities and adopting techniques of secrecy and trust in order to enhance their ability to combine paid work and unpaid care. Overall my MA thesis offers insight into experiences, supports, and constraints that women face as they navigate the demands of paid labour, domestic work and unpaid caregiving in stigmatized and precarious conditions.
    • “You Know What I Mean?”- Language and Cultural Retention in Luso-Canadian Mothers in the Greater Toronto Area

      Vieira, Sara Isabel; Department of Sociology (Brock University, 2014-01-27)
      The Portuguese community is one of the largest diasporic groups in the Greater Toronto Area and the choice of retention and transmission of language and culture to Luso-Canadians is crucial to the development and sustainability of the community. The overall objective of this study is to learn about the factors that influence Luso-Canadian mothers’ inclination to teach Portuguese language and cultural retention to their children. To explore this topic I employed a qualitative research design that included in-depth interviews conducted in 2012 with six Luso-Canadian mothers. Three central arguments emerged from the findings. First, Luso-Canadian mothers interviewed posses a pronounced desire for their children to succeed academically, and to provide opportunities that their children that they did not have. Second, five of the mothers attempt to achieve this mothering objective partly by disconnecting from their Portuguese roots, and by disassociating their children from the Portuguese language and culture. Third, the disconnection they experience and enact is influenced by the divisions evident in the Portuguese community in the GTA that divides regions and hierarchically ranks dialects, and groups. I conclude that the children in these households inevitably bear the prospects of maintaining a vibrant Portuguese community in the GTA and I propose that actions by the community in ranking dialects influence mothers’ decisions about transmitting language and culture to their children.