Paradoxically, the focus on teen motherhood as an object of concern in the West has coincided with declining rates of teen birth. This suggests that the view of teenage motherhood as problematic is underpinned by changing social and political imperatives regarding the role of, women in these countries. This article examines the literature surrounding teenage motherhood from the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, and explores the way in which normative perceptions of motherhood have shifted over the past few decades to position teenage mothers as stigmatised and marginalised. Two specific discourses - those of welfare dependency and social exclusion - are highlighted, and their mediation through scientific discourses examined. The increasing trend to evidence-based policy development has masked the ideological basis of much policy in this area and highlights the importance of critical valuation of the discourses surrounding teenage motherhood. A critical examination of the literature suggests that teenage mothers are vilified, not because the evidence of poor outcomes for teen mothers and their children is particularly compelling, but because these young women resist the typical life trajectory of their middle-class peers which conforms to the current governmental objectives of economic growth through higher education and increased female workforce participation.
Wilson, H., & Huntington, A. (2006). Deviant (M)others: The construction of teenage motherhood in contemporary discourse. Journal of Social Policy, 35, 59-76.