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Title: The complex dynamics of step-m-othering : a qualitative study
Author: Sosnowska-Buxton, Patrycja
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 2779
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis centres on the qualitative analysis of stepmothers' experiences of stepmothering, a topic that is significantly under-researched. Between May and November 2012 I undertook semi-structured in-depth interviews with 20 women who were in the position of stepmother (not all of them identified with that term), mostly from the north of England. In my core data analysis chapters I examine the stepmothers' reported experiences regarding 1) their relationships with their stepchildren, 2) their relationships with the biological/adoptive mothers of their stepchildren, 3) their perceptions of the roles of the biological/adoptive fathers in shaping steprelationships, and 4) their views of the impact of their wider families on their stepfamilies. These four areas have rarely, in some instances, never, been explored, or explored in any detail, in previous research. My first key finding is that stepmothers lead complex lives in multifaceted stepfamilies, for instance serial stepfamilies, which defy easy categorization. Secondly, the relationships between the stepmothers and their stepchildren, including with adult stepchildren, were 'complicated' at least at some point in the relationship and underwent continuous change. Thirdly, the most problematic of all relationships in stepfamilies were the relations between the stepmothers and their stepchildren's biological/adoptive mothers. Fourthly, the stepmothers reported their partners' role in managing the steprelationships as somewhat uninvolved and 'distant'. Finally, the stepmothers' biological and in-law families played important roles in the stepfamilies, either by building bridges or raising walls (Visher and Visher, 1996). The stepmothers' relationships within their stepfamily constellations were interwoven and interconnected with the relationships other stepfamily members had with each other.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available