Volume 2   Number 1      Fall 2007

Negotiating Motherhood: A Dialogical Approach
Filipa Duarte & Miguel M. Gonçalves
University of Minho, Portugal
pp. 249-275   (pdf)
ABSTRACT. This study assumes a dialogical perspective towards the processes of identity construction during the transition to motherhood, and it relies on a methodology that invites the participants to deal with the dualities of the dialogical self (Dialogical Articulation Task - DAT). Using this semi-structured interview, we ask the participants to identify the various self-descriptive dimensions of their selves and to give an independent voice to each of them. These voices are conceptualized as discursive I-positions, and the person is asked to perform the exercise of alternately moving between each of the positions and activate dialogues among them, as well as between them and the significant interlocutors. Transition to motherhood implies the construction of a new maternal identity, but it also involves a necessary re-organization and accommodation of the previous identity positions that constitute the personal repertoire. Assuming that this transition is informed by a constant interplay between different and sometimes demanding identity positions, we explore the meanings constructed in order to elaborate this experience, focusing on the ways women negotiate their new maternal identity. Ambivalence and tension between the different meanings constructed by women concerning motherhood are evidenced through the semiotic analysis of the interviews.
Keywords: dialogical self, self-regulation, semiotic mediation, life transition, motherhood