This article explores consumer vulnerability and the role of public policy by focusing on new mothers. Developing the consumer vulnerability model of Baker, Gentry, and Rittenburg, the authors consider how medical contexts, political and legal factors, economic resources, societal prescriptions, media representations, and the presence or absence of appropriate policy all contribute to the social construction of motherhood ideologies. These ideologies are adopted and amplified in the marketplace and used to encourage consumption as a means of coping with this particular role transition during a time of physical and psychological changes in mothers-to-be. This article illustrates that the extended market logic dominating contemporary mothering environments both contributes to and has the potential to exacerbate new mothers’ vulnerability, raising important challenges for public policy, both in the immediate and in the longer term. The authors assess public policy implications and conclude that the market does not always provide the best answers to uncertainties people may experience and that macromarketers and public policy makers have a particular responsibility to identify alternative solutions.
- Vulnerable consumers