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Motherhood, Moral Authority and the Charismatic Matriarch in the Aftermath of Lethal Violence

Cook, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-7608-8702 (2020). Motherhood, Moral Authority and the Charismatic Matriarch in the Aftermath of Lethal Violence. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 21(3), pp. 353-368. doi: 10.1177/1748895820914359


Images of maternal suffering are an evocative and powerful means of communication in a world where the private grief of victims has increasingly become subject to commodification and public consumption. This article looks at the influence of bereaved mothers as symbols of respect, peace and dignity in the aftermath of violence, and as a result their persuasive presence in family activism. Drawing upon two case studies, this article explores the importance of victims’ stories in public life and, in particular, the presence of the charismatic matriarch in creating communities of solidarity, raising awareness of harms that have previously gone unheard and prompting policy change. It considers the ‘canonical’ story of the mother in public life and concludes by arguing that more attention should be paid to victims’ stories and their influence on policy-making, politics and eventually in becoming public grievances.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Charisma, cultural victimology, family activism, mothers, stories, victims
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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