Becoming a Good Mother: Responsibility between State, Experts and Mothers in Russia

23 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2015

See all articles by Larisa Shpakovskaya

Larisa Shpakovskaya

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: February 19, 2015


The working paper represents a study of motherhood as a specific semantic construct in contemporary Russia. The author analyses the ways in which knowledge about motherhood produces specific maternal experience. The general theoretical framework is the foucauldian concept of discursive power based on knowledge. At the same time, motherhood is viewed as a class differentiated practice. The primary focus of the analysis is motherhood as experienced by Russian middle class women. The paper discuss how motherhood is discursively produced in the Russian context. The author is interested in the knowledge and discourses that Russian middle class women employ in order to become aware of their motherhood and describe themselves as mothers. The paper describes critical sociological theories of motherhood connecting this phenomenon to such concepts as power, social order and social inequalities. These critical approaches deconstruct the motherhood discourse and reveal that the mother becomes a point of production of social and political order of the modern societies. The analysis of the Russian discourse on motherhood in the political and cultural context is presented by the author as well. The paper elaborates upon the category of “responsibility” as the primary meaning component of middle class motherhood. In the conclusion the issue of why and when Russian mothers are considered “responsible” is discussed.

Keywords: motherhood, child care, discourse, subjectivation, middle class

JEL Classification: J13

Suggested Citation

Shpakovskaya, Larisa, Becoming a Good Mother: Responsibility between State, Experts and Mothers in Russia (February 19, 2015). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 87/HUM/2015. Available at SSRN: or

Larisa Shpakovskaya (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017

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