Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.508519
Title: Birth Rites : power, the body and the self in transition to motherhood
Author: Bailey, Lucy
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 1999
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Abstract:
This research examines theories of power, the body and the self by studying theoretically and empirically the transition to motherhood. Drawing on both textual analyses and semi-structured interviews with thirty middle-class women shortly before and shortly after they become mothers for the first time, it is argued that pregnancy and maternity leave are liminal periods during which identity is re-negotiated. The interview data, although not claimed to be a representative study, are used to comment on theories of the self in late modernity. It is suggested that the women's sense of self is refracted, rather than fragmented, through the transition; and that they are excused from elements in their old narrative sense of self for the period of pregnancy, although continuity in the narrative is likely to be reasserted upon entering motherhood. The importance of bodily change to self-identity is investigated through the example of pregnancy and birth. Three key dimensions of the women's shifting gender identity are identified as being sexuality, shape and space. Comparisons between the women's discourses of motherhood and employment are used to reveal not only tensions but important commonalities. Professional identity is shown to be a concern, and the means by which it is ensured in this new context are explored. Resources available to the women in managing their transition are identified. These include a range of discourses to which they have access, various experts who are used to help mediate the period of uncertainty and the women's own practices of the self Comparison between the textual and interview material is used to posit that the women have a degree of agency in this process. Finally, different ways of conceptualising this agency - inter- spatiality, counterpoint and inscription - are proposed to replace/ enhance the established language of resistance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.508519  DOI: Not available
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