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Constructing Motherhood and Daughterhood Across the Lifespan


Edited By Allison M. Alford and Michelle Miller-Day

Constructing Motherhood and Daughterhood Across the Lifespan explores the complex dynamics between mother and daughter over the lifespan. The editors believe that these vital family roles are socially and communicatively constructed, shaped, and molded as mothers and daughters navigate, respond to, and negotiate cultural and familial discourses. Aimed at undergraduate students, this timely book includes course activities and discussion questions in every chapter and a complete term syllabus to enhance a professor’s teaching, providing a smooth route for adoption as a course text. The book also builds on and contributes to the critical and theoretical research in family communication, media studies, and gender studies, delving into the nuanced communication surrounding motherhood and daughterhood in the United States.

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Chapter Four: Reel Mothers and Daughters (Michelle Miller-Day / Riva Tukachinsky / Sydney Jacobs)


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Reel Mothers AND Daughters


The story of motherhood in popular film and television has a history of guiding popular ideals of femininity (Walters, 1992). Images of motherhood both reflect and construct our understandings of womanhood, femininity, and the mother-daughter relationship. From Donna Reed to Kris Jenner mothers depicted in the media, real or fictional, reveal societal beliefs about motherhood. This chapter will review and then examine some representations of the mother-daughter relationship in popular entertainment media such as U.S. television and film, arguing that the mother-daughter relationship is socially constructed through these media portrayals fraught with double-binds and wrapped up in ribbons of sacrifice and friendship.


Motherhood, daughterhood, mothering, daughtering and their meanings are not fixed and inevitable. They are the products of history and social ideals, ideas ← 57 | 58 → embedded within society. As society changes, so too do these ideals. As we grow up in our own social spheres we are not told how to mother or daughter in full detail or how to play the part, but are given a “few cues, hints, and stage directions” (Goffman, 1959, p. 72) by the world around us. Media such as film and television both create and reflect the social constructs of motherhood and daughterhood. Social constructs are social categories developed by society and social practice (e.g., what is a...

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