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Title: Grandmotherhood : meaning, experience and practice
Author: Fairbank, Jane Anne
ISNI:       0000 0001 3456 3192
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis presents a contemporary view of wider kinship relations from the perspective of twenty grandmothers living in the rural area of North Yorkshire. My research adopts a feminist methodology and uses a qualitative method in the form of in depth interviews. Applying a feminist life course approach to the data my findings are that grandmothering plays a significant role in this group of women's lives highlighting the demographic and social changes that have resulted in many of the women being more closely involved in caring for wider kin than previous generations. While acknowledging that the practice of grandmothering is varied and complex, my findings are that being a grandmother is often experienced as a continuation of mothering, framed within the dominant ideals of maternal discourse and the current child-centredness of family life. By applying a 'gendered lens' (Calasanti and Slevin, 2001) to the data the assumed universality of the 'I' of late modernity's individual and 'the self as project' (Giddens, 1992) and dominant male understandings of time are brought into question. I argue that part of the participants' sense of self as grandmothers is gained vicariously through their input into the lives of their children and grandchildren, their sense of self being experienced in relation to and through the lives of others, and, as such, they are the co-authors of others' biographies. Through an analysis of the women's stories I contend that older women as grandmothers are located at the intersection of the traditional notion of female identity as that of 'living for the family' and contemporary ideas of individualization and 'living a life of one's own'. They are located differently in the life course than mothers thus providing a different perspective on the self and the family. I propose that as grandmothers their sense of self is actively, self-reflexively composed from multiple times and lives thereby developing an integrated, multi-layered, denser, sense of self.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available