Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mary E. Virnoche
Scientific motherhood refers to a practice of mothering informed by expert knowledge. The practice evolved as medicine and science replaced other traditionally feminine domains of knowledge including practices related to fertility and birth. The movement to scientific motherhood redefined the child and child raising. The movement also altered women's identities from producers to consumers of mothering knowledge. Industrialization and urbanization in the late 1800s reorganized the Western family from a site of production to a site focused on consumption. An educated, white, male upper class drove the rise of positivism and modern medicine. Women, as the keepers of the private sphere, were confronted with elevated expectations regarding household maintenance and child rearing. Before industrialization, children were conceptualized as miniature, untamed adults. From an early age, each child made significant contribution to the family as she or he worked alongside siblings and adults. In the postindustrial period, the child became a ...