Narratives of Normativity and Permissible Transgression: Mothers' Blogs About Mothering, Family and Food in Resource-Constrained Times


  • Heather Elliott University College London
  • Corinne Squire University of East London
  • Rebecca O'Connell University College London



blogs, narrative, mothers, digital methods, food


We consider the characteristics of one form of digital narrative—the blog—and what they may offer to personal narratives about mothering, families, and food and other resources. We draw on narrative analysis of six months of posts from two blogs about feeding families, written by mothers in the context of constrained economic, time, socioemotional, and environmental resources, to make a second-order analysis of the features of blogs that operate to support or transgress normative narratives. We focus on how, on the "About Me" pages of these blogs, the relations between the written and visual narratives, and the semantic multiplicities and contradictions, the styles and the cross-platform genres of the written stories, generate both normative and transgressive narratives around mothering and family, the bloggers' own involvements with the blog, and resource issues. In conclusion, we discuss the limitations of our analysis, and how and to what extent the features of blogs on which we have focused may work to generate narratives of political positioning and action.


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Author Biographies

Heather Elliott, University College London

Heather ELLIOTT is a freelance writer and researcher and honorary fellow at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, at University College London's Institute of Education. She has expertise in digital anthropology and in the substantive areas of motherhood and work, marginalia and archives and children's imaginaries. Recent projects, funded by Economic and Social Research Council and University College London, have involved research on mothers' online representations of family life and entanglements of mothers' and children's digital practices. She uses, and write about, narrative, psychosocial, archival and longitudinal qualitative methodologies.

Corinne Squire, University of East London

Corinne SQUIRE is professor of social sciences and co-director, Centre for Narrative Research, at University of East London. She is author of "Living with HIV and ARVs: Three Letter Lives" (Palgrave, 2013), and editor of "Doing Narrative Research" (with Molly ANDREWS and Maria TAMBOUKOU, Sage, 2013) and "What Is Narrative Research?" (with Mark DAVIS, Cigdem ESIN, Molly ANDREWS, Barbara HARRISON, Lars-Christer HYDEN, and Margareta HYDEN, Bloomsbury, 2014).

Rebecca O'Connell, University College London

Rebecca O'CONNELL is a senior research officer at the Thomas Coram Research Unit. Her research interests lie at the intersection of care and work, with a particular focus on the home, food practices and the ethics of care. She is currently undertaking a European Research Council funded study that examines what young people and their families eat in Portugal, the UK and Norway, and how they manage in difficult economic times (see She is author of "Food, Families and Work" (with Julia BRANNEN, Bloomsbury, 2016).




How to Cite

Elliott, H., Squire, C., & O’Connell, R. (2017). Narratives of Normativity and Permissible Transgression: Mothers’ Blogs About Mothering, Family and Food in Resource-Constrained Times. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 18(1).



Analyzing Narratives Across Media