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Maternalism: Maternalism is a socio-political ideology advocating for government or societal involvement in social welfare, often emphasizing maternal or nurturing qualities in governance. It promotes policies supporting the well-being of individuals and families, including healthcare, education, and labor reforms, based on the idea of a nurturing, protective role similar to that of a mother in a family. See also Paternalism, Feminism, Welfare state, Healthcare system, Family, Labour, Equal rights.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Political Philosophy on Maternalism - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 282
Maternalism/Political theories/Mottier: 'Maternalist' thinkers also reject the liberal contractual conception of citizenship. They place the emphasis on the relational dimension of social life.
Ethics: Drawing on the work of Nancy Chodorow (1978)(1) and Carol Gilligan (1982)(2), maternalists argue that the private sphere, in particular the family, is ruled by a relational morality, an 'ethics of care' anchored in mothering activities.
Capacities: As Sara Ruddick (1980)(3) argues, women who are mothers have developed capacities, values and moral judgements that are both little recognized and contrast with the dominant bureaucratic and technological rationality of the modern public sphere.
According to maternalists, women bring to the public sphere these relational capacities, including a respect for others and a care for their well-being. They also bring a different use of power since the aim of ethics of care is to empower others, not to control them.
Public Sphere: The public sphere, on the contrary, is seen to be ruled by a masculinist ethics of justice, founded on individual rights.
>Public sphere, >Justice.
Ethics of care: For maternalist theorists, the ethics of care is morally superior to the individualist values that dominate the public sphere. They see in the ethics of care of the private sphere a possible source for rethinking both morality in the public sphere and the model of liberal citizenship. Consequently, maternalist theorists such as Ruddick (1980;(3) 1989(4)) and Elshtain (1982)(5) argue for an integration into the public sphere of relational skills such as listening skills, emotions, and recognition of others' needs and vulnerability as a basis for democratic deliberation (Ruddick, 1980;(3) 1989(4); Elshtain, 1982(5); Held, 1990(6)).
Society: Women's experiences from the private sphere are thus taken as a normative model for behaviour in the public sphere, where women's capacities for love and care for others come to be seen as a model to be emulated by others, and as a potential basis for public morality. Elshtain (1982)(5) calls for a 'social feminism' as an alternative to the 'amoral statecraft' of the modern bureaucratic state.
Problems: In her critical development of maternalist theory, Selma Sevenhuijsen (1998(7): 20) shares this emphasis on the revaluation of caring activities. However, she emphasizes that social practices of care do not always spring from worthy motives but can also be driven by the desire for control over others, or from 'Christian guilt'. As Sevenhuijsen points out, 'bad' motives can lead to 'good' care, while a 'good' motive, such as attentiveness to vulnerability, is no guarantee of good care but can lead to paternalism or undue protection.
>Maternalism/MacKinnon, >Maternalism/Dietz.

1. Chodorow, Nancy (1978) The Reproduction of Mothering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
2. Gilligan, Carol (1982) In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Woman's Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Umversity Press.
3. Ruddick, Sara (1980) 'Maternal thinking'. Feminist Studies, 6 (Summer): 342—67.
4. Ruddick, Sara (1989) Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace. Boston: Beacon.
5. Elshtain, Jean Bethke (1982) 'Antigone's daughters'. Democracy in the world, 2:48-59.
6. Held, Virginia (1990) 'Mothering versus contract'. In Jane Mansbridge, ed., Beyond Self-Interest. University of Chicago Press, 288-304.
7. Sevenhuijsen, Selma (1998) Citizenship and the Ethics of Care: Feminist Considerations on Justice, Morality and Politics. London: Routledge.

Véronique Mottier 2004. „Feminism and Gender Theory: The Return of the State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Political Philosophy
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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