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Durham University

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Publication details

Kong, S.T. & Hooper, C.A. (2018). Building a Community of Practice for Transforming ‘Mothering’ of Abused Women into a ‘Mutual Care Project’ A New Focus on Partnership and Mutuality. British Journal of Social Work 48(3): 633-655.

Author(s) from Durham


The current child-protection and women-protection frameworks tend to polarise the well-being of women and children. Abused mothers are often considered ‘inadequate’ or ‘incompetent’ if their children fail to achieve socially desirable outcomes. Conversely, children are seen as a burden on abused women in cases where women are ambivalent with respect to their mothering experience. Yet abused women need extra care and support to be competent again in the post-separation context, while children can serve a protective role for their abused mothers. This study employs Cooperative Grounded Inquiry (CGI) for working with abused Chinese women in Hong Kong and their teenage children in order to nurture a community of practice for transforming mothering into a mutual care project. Through partnering with teenage participants for setting care goals and care plans, abused women became aware of how they had monopolised the care work at home while teenage participants recognised how they could contribute to designing and accomplishing care plans. The findings shed light on the cultural fit of ‘community of practice’ in Chinese familial societies, and demonstrate the potential of ‘doing family’ for expanding post-separation protection for abused women and their children. In this article, ‘community of practice’ is proposed as an approach for helping to narrow the gap between child-protection and women-protection systems.