Criminology, Sociology, Women's Studies
This article examines how incarcerated mothers constructed moral identities in the face of stigma. Analyzing data from participant observation and 83 in-depth interviews with incarcerated mothers, we show that mothers claimed moral identities by distancing from the stigma of incarceration and/or embracing the identity of incarcerated mothers. Utilizing these strategies, women challenged the stigma of convicted felon/bad mother and reinforced the assumptions that motherhood is compulsory and should be reserved for women with enough money and standing to give their children advantages. The implications for understanding motherhood as a mechanism of moral identity and social control are discussed.
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