Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mothers face a novel situation compared to other human roles. While there are benefits in cooperating with others for shared resources, there are simultaneously benefits in competing for one’s own gains. Moreover, infants pose unique challenges to mothers, requiring extended provisioning and protection. Women cooperate and support each other to benefit the group and in particular their children; however, mothers may benefit from competing for limited resources that directly impact on them and their children and, hence, engage in indirect reproductive competition. The quandary for mothers becomes whether they should cooperate or compete with other mothers, especially when resources related to reproduction and child care are in limited supply. We review literature on cooperative breeding and allomothering, present literature on women’s reproductive competition, and explore limitations on investigating cooperation or competition. We then bring cooperation and competition together and address how mothers follow both strategies, concluding with suggestions for future work.

Keywords: mothers, social support, division of labor, cooperation, competition, child care, human evolution

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.