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Title: Young mothers, social exclusion and citizenship
Author: Greene, Saara
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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With the development of the Social Inclusion Unit, the 1997 New Labour government committed themselves to a process of reintegrating and increasing the participation of marginalised groups within mainstream society. A major development produced by the unit has been their ‘Report on Teenage Pregnancy’ (1999a) reflecting a political and social agenda aimed at decreasing teenage conceptions and pregnancies. One way that the government has attempted to achieve these goals has been through disseminating social and political discourse outlining the social problems associated with teenage pregnancy and young motherhood. This has resulted in the development of social policies and programmes aimed at decreasing teenage pregnancy and encouraging young mothers to access social welfare programmes that will increase their participation in the labour market. However, as this study will demonstrate, by focusing mainly on labour market participation as the route to inclusion, New Labour has systematically ignored other barriers to social inclusion that are experienced by young mothers such as their age, gender and race, and a lack of recognition of their working-class culture. Another main aim of this study is to demonstrate how young mothers’ experiences of social exclusion are intensified through New Labour’s view of active citizenship, which emphasises participation in the labour market, education, training programmes, and volunteerism. However, as this study will argue, the young mothers who participated in this study regularly engaged in the responsibilities associated with active citizenship through fulfilling the responsibilities associated with mothering and participating in community based activities and politics that are connected to the welfare of their children. Yet, because the responsibilities and duties associated with mothering are rarely, if ever, associated with active citizenship, young mothers remain excluded from experiencing substantive citizenship status. It will be also argued that because young motherhood is viewed as a social problem, young mothers often carry out their mothering in the public sphere under the gaze of social work and other human service professionals. This points to a contradiction inherent in liberal notions of citizenship that suggest that although the raising of children is a duty worthy of social and political attention, young motherhood fails to be viewed as an activity associated with citizenship. Through juxtaposing social inclusion strategies and programme with in-depth interviews and participant observation sessions with twenty young mothers from a socially deprived community in Scotland, this study will demonstrate how government strategies have failed to recognise the various factors associated with becoming a young mother, and the ways in which the activities associated with young motherhood demonstrate acts of citizenship. As such, this study will argue that young mothers’ experiences of social exclusion may be exacerbated rather than alleviated by New Labour’s social exclusion policies and programmes and their view of what it means to be an active citizen.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available