Noncustodial Mothering: A Cultural Paradox of Competent Performance-Performative Competence

Deborah Eicher-Catt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article interrogates the cultural experience of being a noncustodial mother. Framed by the discrete event of child visitation, the author provides a personal account of her struggles to perform successfully in such a constraining context of discourse. Employing a dramatistic metaphor, she extends the praxis of autoethnography by critically exploring the semiotic and phenomenological nature of this communicative experience. She reveals that noncustodial mothering presents a cultural paradox that foregrounds the dialectical movement between a competent performance and a performative competence of mothering. She discusses the implications of this cultural phenomenon in light of the concepts of performativity and la parole that deepens our appreciation of the communicative praxis of ethnography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-108
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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