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Title: The negotiation of parenthood : a panel study of twenty two middle class families
Author: Backett, Kathryn Chrisop
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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A panel study of twenty two middle class couples, each with two children, was carried out using a minimally structured methodology. The resulting accounts of parenthood are analysed from the perspective of family life as a mutually constructed social reality. Attention is focussed on the exchange of meanings within the nuclear group. Aspects of the form and content of the negotiation of parenthood between spouses are examined. Underlying assumptions about family behaviour as a learned, shared and life-cyclically oriented reality are found to characterise respondents' accounts. These assumptions provide a broad framework for the family's mutually held reality but offer considerable scope for variation in everyday practical interpretations. Thus the negotiation of parental behaviour involves continuous exchange of legitimations between spouses. Coping mechanisms are employed to sustain belief in the viability of the mutually held reality when tensions and dilemmas arise. It is suggested that images of children are important factors in the development of parental behaviour. These are separated analytically into "abstract" and "grounded". These categorisations refer respectively to the individual's social stock of knowledge and to the ongoing biographical experience of the parent. Finally, being a mother and being a father are discussed. Interactional and definitional elements in the spouses' construction of these mutually held realities are highlighted. In particular, it is demonstrated that there exists an implicit assumption of the woman's overall responsibility for the administration of household and children. By contrast, the problematical nature of fatherhood relates to sustaining belief in his direct involvement in these spheres. The thesis has theoretical and empirical implications. The adoption of an interactionist perspective allows examination of the effects of group members on one another's family behaviour. The material also contributes to areas of substantive neglect: notably the indirect power of the mother, the social construction of paternal behaviour and the effects of children on parenthood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available