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Title: "Making a difference" : women's narratives of belonging and retirement
Author: Nikodem, Moira
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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This PhD focuses on the life stories of ten Scottish women retirees. Exploring their subjective experiences of retirement, professional and personal attachments, and sense of belonging, it provides a within-gender analysis by means of intersectionality theory (Yuval-Davis 2011) and thematic narrative analysis (Riessman 2008). Women’s retirement is a largely unexplored phenomenon with a general lack of engagement with subjective experience and a preoccupation with a male, middle-class template in which retirement is considered a discrete transition from employment, triggering loss of identity. Diversity of experience, including the cumulative impact on retirement of personal and professional, as well as socio-political, cultural, organisational and interpersonal factors, and what people do in retirement remain largely unaddressed. The respondents’ belonging, their professional and personal affiliations across the lifespan, was explored. Themes of structure (stereotyping, discrimination and change) and agency (values and emotions) were exposed within and across their narratives. Each retirement was uniquely multifaceted, informed by wide-ranging, constitutive intersectionalities including gender, ageing, generation, ethnicity, class and health. Gender prescribed distinct trajectories of marriage, motherhood and gendered occupation, often resulting in pension poverty and a professional-personal conflict which intensified as they aged. In later life, generational values of community and a desire to be purposeful faced challenge. As opportunities contracted, the respondents remained determined to be useful and purposeful in their ongoing pursuits of employment, volunteering, caring and community work. The male, economic paradigm of retirement emerges as an obsolete construct and in its inability to accommodate differences a source of disadvantage for some women retirees. For these women, retirement neither represented a discrete transition nor loss of identity as they were sustained by their life-long values of doing something worthwhile. Remaining committed to ‘making a difference’, these women never retired in the official sense of the word.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: CHAP
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Retired women ; Assimilation (Sociology)