Dissertation Abstracts

The Icelandic Mother: Discourse and Experience

Author: Simonardottir, Sunna K, sunna.simonardottir@gmail.com
Department: Faculty of Social and Human Sciences
University: University of Iceland, Iceland
Supervisor: Ingolfur V. Gislason
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Motherhood , Discourse analysis , Pregnancy , Discipline
Areas of Research: Women in Society , Body in the Social Sciences , Risk and Uncertainty


This research will examine how Icelandic women experience motherhood and adapt to the mother role, as well as examining dominant discourses on mothering as a culturally and historically specific social activity. It will look at the ways in which the rhetoric of “the natural” surrounding childbirth and child-rearing practices in general is played out in an Icelandic context and examine how the markers of “good” and “bad” mothers are used to regulate women’s choices and actions. Mixed research methods will be used. Meta-analysis from the data that were gathered in the study Childbirth and Health, semi-structured interviews with pregnant women and new mothers, focus-groups and textual analysis of various educational materials regarding maternal care and pregnancy in general. The quantitative and qualitative methods will complement each other, producing a clear and detailed account of the construction of motherhood in Iceland. The lack of research and consequently understanding of mothering as a culturally and historically specific social activity in Iceland makes this project novel, timely and extremely important. It will also provide an important contribution to the public discourse on motherhood, gender equality and the parenting roles of men and women.