Dissertation Abstracts

The Epitome of Bad Parents: Construction of Good and Bad Parenting, Mothering, and Fathering in Cases of Maternal and Paternal Filicide

Author: Grau, Amy B, amy.grau@enmu.edu
Department: Sociology
University: University of Cincinnati, USA
Supervisor: Annulla Linders
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Areas of Research: Deviance and Social Control , Family Research , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


Motherhood, fatherhood, and parenthood are often treated as universal constructs. This is especially true in the construction of good and bad motherhood, fatherhood, and parenthood. However, as previous research such as that by Collins (2009), Glenn (1994), and Risman (1998) all demonstrate, parenting is affected by both race and gender. In this dissertation, I show that the social construction of motherhood, fatherhood, and parenthood are gendered and racialized. Specifically, I focused on media portrayals of the crime of filicide, or the murder of a child by its parents, to show the gendering and racialization of parenthood. I chose media portrayals of filicide as the focal site for this research precisely because it is divergent from “normal” parenting activities.

I examined twenty-five cases of filicide that were committed by thirty-three parents. I conducted a qualitative content analysis of 372 stories about these thirty-three parents from stories that I collected from local television news affiliate websites. Cases were limited to those in which it was reported that the parent(s) had been convicted of a charge in relation to the death of their child between June 10, 2010 and June 10, 2012.

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