My mother, my friend : an exploration of the mother-daughter relationship as friendship.
This study focuses on the mother-daughter relationship conceptualised as friendship and explores the ways in which this conceptuafisation articulates with broader concerns of feminine subjectivity. Using Denzin's (2001) interpretive interactionism as a framework for in-depth interviews, women's own talk about their mother-daughter relationships was analysed. Friendship implies a relationship of choice and equality rather than the traditional asymmetries of power typical of mother-daughter dynamics and the participants asserted this characteristic as the defining feature of their relationships. Their understanding of this rubric of friendship was analysed in terms of three primary themes: 1) Talk constructs and maintains particular levels of intimacy between mother and daughter, disclosing the self to the other; 2) This form of interaction is gendered, only possible between women. Fathers in particular are positioned predominantly within a discourse of 'absence' or 'emotional defectiveness' and this is seems to provide a gendered counterpoint to the exclusive intimacy shared between mother and daughter; and 3) The ostensibly equal form of the relationship conceals patterns of regulation, in particular certain forms of self-regulation. Women are encouraged by social structures such as tradition, culture, religion and so forth to regulate themselves in ways that keep feminine subjectivity as 'nice' and 'good' . In these ways, the conceptualisation of the mother-daughter relationship as 'friendship' affords both women important measures of relational support, challenging more masculine versions of parenting, generational authority and the centrality of autonomy and separation in the developmental process. However, in parallel with these positive shifts, the relationship thus conceptualised also serves to conceal relations of power and the explicit gendering of these forms of relating may further entrench an already naturalised female/ male duality.