Negotiating gendered inequalities in online offline environments

The complexion of anger, connectivity and feminism on and beyond Mumsnet

  • Wed 7 Dec 22

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Dr Yvonne Ehrstein

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Professor Roisin Ryan-Flood

Dr Yvonne Ehrstein teaches sociology, gender and social research methods at the University of Essex. Prior to this, she was a visiting lecturer on the sociology programme at City, University of London, where she also completed her PhD. Her research interests include gender, intersectional feminist theory, feminism and the digital, the interrelation between subjectivity and culture, and discourses at the intersection of work and care across the online-offline sphere. In her research, she uses digital ethnography and interviews to map discourses of (in)equality, gender and work on Mumsnet and beyond. Her work on Mumsnet and the construction of maternal working femininities is published in the journal Feminism & Psychology and in the edited book Neoliberalism in Context.

Mumsnet is Britain’s largest parenting website and existing research on the site has largely produced more or less critical explorations into the cultural and social imperatives of contemporary mothering. Yet, women, and working mothers in particular, use the Mumsnet space in myriads of ways that are structured by digital affordances and affective conventions, as well as mediated by popular imagery of work-family balance and shifting feminist discourses. In this presentation, I shed some light on the way that heterosexual women with children negotiate particular gendered injustices through and beyond this digital space. Drawing on online postings to the site’s discussion board, I consider the kind of affective subjectivities that are being called forth by Mumsnet’s ‘combative online culture of feeling’, including the ‘raging Mumsnetter’, the ‘angry wife’, and the ‘feckless manchild’. Moving beyond the digital vacuum, I juxtapose these virtual figures with accounts from interviews with site users and highlight both the value and limitations of speaking about inequalities and critiquing them in everyday talk on and off Mumsnet. In my analysis, I depart from feminist approaches that either celebrate digital spaces as empowering and emancipatory, or critique the ways they inhibit justice and feminist progress. Instead, I show the nuance and ambivalence of interactions and affects in the online communicative space of Mumsnet, and theorise the intricate consequences for the potential of the digital, and the performances of rage this environment facilitates, to politicise and challenge the wider structures underpinning inequalities.

This webinar is part of an open webinar series, hosted by CISC. To discover more please visit the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship and follow the Centre on Twitter.

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