Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Marshall, Hannah

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Breast feeding


The present study is concerned with understanding breastfeeding from the perspectives of two groups of breastfeeding mothers; affiliated and non-affiliated. I was also interested in presenting information about the perspectives of La Leche League members relating the deviance from their group ideals. The major methodological technique utilized in the present study was depth interviews. These interviews were supplemented by attendance at La Leche League meetings and by questionnaires. My analytical approach was inductive and influenced by the sociological works of Donald Cressy and Alfred Lindesmith. Guided by symbolic interactionist theory, I attempted to learn about breastfeeding from the viewpoints of affiliated and non-affiliated breastfeeding mothers, in addition to learning about deviant behavior and reactions to this behavior. The final analysis indicated that affiliated and non-affiliated breastfeeding mothers had divergent beliefs relating to the introduction of solid foods, weaning, feeding schedule, rooming-in, and nursing in public. Affiliated breastfeeding mothers' perspectives about breastfeeding generally reflected what they had learned as members of La Leche League. Non-affiliated breastfeeding mothers' perspectives about breastfeeding emerged from interaction with medical personnel, reading books, and interaction with significant others, such as friends and relatives. In studying the perspectives of La Leche League members relating to deviance from the groups' ideals, it was found that group members believed in allowing each mother to rear her children in the way she felt was best while at the same time tolerating those mothers who reared their children in a way which deviated from the groups' ideals.


Includes bibliographical references.


118 pages




Northern Illinois University

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