Shaping children’s mobilities: expectations of gendered parenting in the English rural idyll
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2011.590701
This paper explores the impact of local parenting practices and children's everyday use of public space within two villages in the rural South West of England, an issue that has been underexplored in recent research. Drawing upon the concept of hybridity, it explores the interplay between the social, natural and material in shaping local cultures of rural parenting. The paper begins by drawing upon recent research on parenting in the global North, the gendering of rural space and hybridity to show how these bodies of work can be interlinked to better understand rural parenting practices and norms. Through empirical research that focused on the relationships between gendered parenting strategies, idealised notions of rural motherhood and materiality, the paper explores the diverse ways in which a group of working and middle-class mothers construct and define ideas about their children's lives and mobilities. Whilst dominant discourses of rurality focus upon the idyll, and gendered identities of rural women still remain within the domestic sphere, so we examine how these deeply embedded notions of ‘normality’ can be powerful social tools in rural villages, mobilised through discourses of materiality and anxiety. In our conclusions, we argue that the hybrid integration of the material and social provides a useful framework for understanding the everyday geographies of rural parenting.