American political activists and candidates have used motherhood to rally women’s interest, support, and participation throughout American history. Jill S. Greenlee investigates the complex relationship between motherhood and women’s political attitudes. Combining a historical overview of the ways motherhood has been used for political purposes with recent political opinion surveys and individual-level analysis, she explains how and when motherhood shapes women’s thoughts and preferences.
Greenlee argues that two mechanisms account for the durability of motherhood politics. First, women experience attitudinal shifts when they become mothers. Second, “mother” is a broad-based identity, widely shared and ideologically unconstrained, that lends itself to appeals across the political spectrum to build support for candidates and policy issues.
“Greenlee’s book speaks to a number of important streams of research and examines a set of phenomena that have shaped American politics at many levels throughout our history. . . . This book will immediately be recognized by scholars and instructors as a leading authority and reference.”
—Christina Wolbrecht, University of Notre Dame
“The Political Consequences of Motherhood is an impressive accomplishment. Greenlee employs multiple methods and a historical time frame to bring new perspectives, challenge conventional wisdom, and add nuance to our understanding of the topic. I especially like the treatment of how mothers themselves ponder the consequences in their own lives.”
—M. Kent Jennings, University of California, Santa Barbara
Cover image: © Athos Boncompagni / iStock