Mothers, kids, and COVID: Suburban geographies of the COVID-19 pandemic
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15734
This thesis extends pandemic, health, and maternal geographies by examining how the emotions and actions of seven mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic influence the health outcomes of their children. The research seeks to explain mothers’ responses to, and lived experiences during, the COVID-19 pandemic in a coastal Bay of Plenty suburb in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research addresses three main questions: first, how have COVID-19 public health requirements altered mothers’ relationship with their homes and suburban communities? Second, how have mothers understood COVID-19 scientific knowledge and mis/dis information in relation to the vaccine for 5 to 11-year-old children? Third, how do mothers with their vaccinated and unvaccinated children navigate their suburban movements during COVID-19 public health requirements? The thesis aims to promote awareness of the influence and impact mothers can have on geographies of disease management. Discussion around COVID-19 has been wide-ranging and varied on the geographical consequences of the pandemic, however, there is little that accounts for the role of mothers, children and their disrupted everyday geographies. Current discourses marginalise mothers in their role as caregiver and this research seeks to re-image mothers and make space for their alternative ways of generating and sharing knowledge. Seven mothers, with at least one child aged 5 to 11-years-old, participated in semi-structured interviews with an emotional mapping activity. The methodology is theoretically and empirically innovative and seeks to open up creative ways of conducting pandemic and health research. My findings are organised into three areas: the idea of home as being both ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ for mothers during the pandemic; the consequence of ‘bubble’ living on the mobility of mothers and their children; and, how mothers’ behaviours changed over the course of the pandemic in relation to the rise of mis/dis information, with particular focus on information towards the vaccine for young children. I assert that the lived experiences of mothers during the pandemic have created space for increased confidence when making health-related decisions for their children. Some mothers have challenged the public health advice. The consequences of which are visible through the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. Ultimately, this thesis shows how mothers can be at the forefront of disease management. Mothers who combine science and emotion to make decisions add to complex geographies of disease management. Understanding this may help frame effective strategies of preparedness and response to future pandemics.
The University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses