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Title: Gender, age and widowhood : how older widows and widowers differently realign their lives
Author: Davidson, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0001 2449 2394
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis reports an original research investigation of gendered differences in the meanings of widowhood to older men and women in the medium and long term after the loss of their spouse. Twenty five widows and twenty six widowers were interviewed in-depth, with a semi-structured interview guide and the data were analysed using a qualitative data analysis software program. There is a received wisdom that in widowhood, women grieve and men replace. Indeed, demographic data indicate that older widowed men are more likely to remarry than older widowed women. The study focuses on the choices and constraints in the making of new dyadic relationships and how men and women differ in their approaches to these partnerships. What emerges from the interview data is a complex picture of same-and cross-gender friendship and partnership matrices which are age and gender specific. For most of the widows, some of whom were living by themselves for the first time, their aloneness was perceived as a sense of liberation that they were unwilling to relinquish as a trade off for companionship with caring responsibilities. For the widowers, the loneliness was viewed more as a sense of deprivation after a life of being cared for by a woman in whom they had concentrated their emotional existence. At the heart of gendered choices about repartnership is the notion of selfishness and its differential meanings to older men and women. The study concludes that the fundamental gender difference in the decision making process regarding the formation of an exclusive cross-gender relationship, is the perception of the costs and benefits associated with taking on a new partner. A widow feels that a new partnership would be at the cost of her new found independence whereas a widower benefits from the mitigation of his aloneness and loneliness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology