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Title: "My lioness wife" : the construction of gender identities in the discourse(s) of Ghanaian couples in the UK diaspora
Author: Diabah , Grace
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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Abstract:
Research on Gender and Language has been carried out in various languages and cultures, and from various perspectives (see Harrington et al. 2008). However; in Africa and other third world contexts where the gender gap is arguably more culturally circumscribed, paradoxically, less work has been done. It is even worse when it comes to the intersection between gender, language and the (African) Diaspora (but see Martin-Ogunsola 2004; Cooper 2008). Yet, this intersection is important for the gender and language field because, in the light of the current academic conceptualisat ion and discussion of gender as a social construct, the Diaspora presents (African, Ghanaian) men and women with particularly diverse resources for multiple, competing and sometimes conflicting identity constructions. In contributing to filling these gaps in scholarship, I investigate constructions of gender identities in the discourses of Ghanaian couples in Milton Keynes (UK) in relation to (a) what gender identities are constructed, (b) whether they conform to or challenge stereotypical gender identities, (c) the linguistic evidence for such constructions, and (d) the conflicts and dilemmas arising out of such constructions. employ three theoretical approaches: Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis, cognitive linguistics approaches to discourse, and Discursive Psychology. The results show that paricipants perform identities consistent with Ghanaian sociocultural norms and expectations about gendered practices in public contexts (often constructing what I call 'traditional man', 'traditional woman' and 'virtuous woman' identities), but reportedly challenge these practices in private or among people they consider to share their views on such practices (often constructing 'modern we man/woman', 'career woman', 'alomo gyata', ':Jbaa barima ', and ':Jbaa akobnini' identities). The tendency to construct identities that support traditional gender practices, I argue, is likely to be informed by wider socio-cultural expectations and individuals' desire to present themselves in a way that is acceptable by others, at least in 'traditional' contexts. Such self-presentation is often the result of underlying social pressure, expressed in discourse, for individuals to conform to stereotypical gender practices, and not to transgress. The findings also point to an underlying discursive pressure on both women and men to sustain traditional gender practices and identities, but especially on men since being considered as 'feminine' positions them as 'not man enough'. Such pressures sometimes create dilemmas and conflicts in participants' talk, as evidenced by the struggles, inconsistencies, contradictions and competing statements articulated. However, participants appear to be able to socially manage these dilemmas better when they are abroad than in Ghana because there are fewer people to criticise them abroad.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.661124  DOI: Not available
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