The We Society Explores Intersectionality and Single Motherhood

In a recently released episode of The We Society podcast, Ann Phoenix, a psychologist at University College London’s Institute of Education, spoke about her research on the relevance of intersectionality and how it impacts young single mothers’ success rates.

The We Society is sponsored by the Academy of Social Sciences and hosted by Will Hutton, the president of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Phoenix explained that race, class and gender need to be considered collectively to analyze individuals’ outcomes.

“Just those different intersecting things to do with class, as well as gender, as well as having a child under 20 makes a difference,” she said. “Most people who have children under 20 are impoverished, but it used to be the case that, since it was common to marry early, the middle classes also had children under 20, but with very, very different outcomes.”

She referenced how she studied single young mothers from working class backgrounds who were often successful despite adverse conditions.

“Quite often, having a child for them coming from working class roots, often living in poverty… was often a thing that impelled them to think, ‘Well, now I must do something else, must work in some way so that I can make things better for my child.’”

She also emphasized that for these mothers to be successful, they often relied on others in their communities to assist them.

“None of those who were rearing their children successfully did so single handedly,” she said. “Its rather like remembering the adage… ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”

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Molly Gahagen

Molly Gahagen is a third-year student at Johns Hopkins University studying political science and international studies. She is currently the social science communications intern at SAGE Publishing.

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