A Mother-to-Mother Self-Help Group in Palermo: From Breastfeeding Promotion to Daily Web-Support

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Marilena MACALUSO, Palermo University, Italy
Citizens in individualized societies experience life-politics or lifestyle politics and their daily relationships pass through the Net. On one side, there are the weakening of the Welfare State in the Western countries, the economic crisis, the precariousness of work; on the other, there are the post-politics and the cyber-transformation of the public sphere. In this scenario new forms of collective mobilization are spreading, they have not the features of social movements, but they form simpler realities that can take different shapes and changing dynamically, becoming interest coalitions when there are social and political opportunities. This paper analyzes in particular the case study of a collective social actor born out of the action of a group of mothers and professionals promoting breastfeeding and mother-to-mother support in Palermo (Italy) observing its origin, evolution, organizational structure, inner and outer communication and Internet use, protest repertories (flash mob, social campaigns, etc.), networks with other local, national and international groups (the network around breastfeeding support is global, the bigger hub in Italy there is Italian Mother Breastfeeding Movement and globally the Leche League International). Starting from the analysis of public policies in Italy on breastfeeding and moving from local reactions to global processes, this paper illustrates the case through participant observation and ethnography (5 years), collection of interviews, analysis of the press echo. They develop in their everyday life a work of mutual support, listening, tackling against fallacy and preconceptions, spreading of lifestyles and sustainable consumption, making strong virtual ties using the social network (WhatsApp group, Facebook), peer learning and social empowerment that from the private sphere assumes from time to time the form of pressure group, protest movement, virtuous civic experience, social engagement, becoming a driving force for social and political change.