Maternal Risk Anxiety in Belfast: Claims, Evaluations, Responses

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This paper considers the social logic of maternal anxiety about risks posed to children in segregated, post-conflict neighbourhoods. Focusing on qualitative research with mothers in Belfast’s impoverished and divided inner city, the paper draws on the interactionist perspective in the sociology of emotions to explore the ways in which maternal anxiety drives claims for recognition of good mothering, through orientations to these neighbourhoods. Drawing on Hirschman’s model of exit, loyalty and voice types of situated action, the paper examines the relationship between maternal risk anxiety and evaluations of neighbourhood safety. In arguing that emotions are important aspects of claims for social recognition, the paper demonstrates that anxiety provokes efforts to claim status, in this context through the explicit affirmation of non-sectarian mothering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-939
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2017


  • anxiety, Belfast, mothers, non-sectarianism, recognition, status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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