Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

Layered Motherhood for Chinese Mother Bloggers: A Feminist Foucauldian Analysis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Radhika Gajjala (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

John Warren (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Ellen Gorsevski (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

L. Thomas Andrews (Committee Member)


This is an exploratory attempt at understanding motherhood as layered, conditioned, and multivalent against the background of the one-child policy in China. Through close readings of blogs maintained and posted by Chinese mother bloggers at, I foreground the complexities of their subjectivities. What is significant about blogs for the purpose of my study is that they are increasingly being used by networks of middle-class urban Chinese parents, and specifically by women. Drawing mainly from Michel Foucault and different schools of feminist thinkers, subjectivities are understood as fluid, constituted, and becoming. Therefore, this dissertation highlights the interconnectivity between Chinese nation, the discourse of population in China, Chinese women and their children, and the nexus of power and knowledge in the age of biopower. It also centers on the normative, constitutive, and regulatory power of gender and sexuality on Chinese mother bloggers as exemplified by their glorification of motherhood and everyday practices in nurturing and disciplining their young. However, in the midst of conforming and reproducing dominant discourses on gender and sexuality, Chinese mother bloggers are also engaged in the technology of the self through the diligent act of blogging, thus fostering new modes of existence and relationships and exerting their agency in context.