Many studies have shown how important it is for low-income mothers to sustain their moral identities as both good mothers and reliable workers during times of little social valuing of mothers’ caring work. Discovering how low-income mothers sustain this duality when caring crises preclude employment requires a mapping of their social worlds as reflected in their moral justifications. We used an institutional ethnographic approach that focused on situations wherein mothers decide to exit the labor market and devote themselves to their children’s caring needs. Interviews with 48 Israeli mothers revealed that they maintain their moral fitness both as good mothers and good citizens by engaging in a specific emotion management: expressing emotional devotion to their paid job, whereas child care is presented as a necessity. We argue that emotion management is particularly revealing of how macro-level institutional practices and discourses come to the fore in individuals’ daily lives.
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