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Sociologists of culture think a lot about morality—about where our judgments come from and how those judgments shape our actions. Two approaches commonly lead the way: Bourdieusian practice theory, which argues that acquired cultural dispositions guide our judgments quickly, automatically, and without conscious awareness, and Swidler’s (1986) toolkit theory, which suggests people consciously use cultural repertoires to construct strategies of action.
Over the past few months, I have conducted interviews with people experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and life with newborns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve spoken with single first-time mothers and working mothers of six, those who have had home births and those who have been induced in the hospital, those giving birth with emergency or scheduled cesarean sections. As is typical in any sample of pregnant women, some welcomed and celebrated the transition to motherhood while others resented their pregnancy and feared the birthing process.