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Title: Illegitimacy
Author: Vincent, Jacky
ISNI:       0000 0001 3548 199X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1978
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A review of the literature on illegitimacy shows three explanatory models. The individual model which explains why some women become unmarried mothers. The social model which explains why illegitimacy levels vary in different societies. The interactive model which explains how individual and societal factors interact to produce a particular societal level of illegitimacy and mothers of illegitimate babies with particular characteristics. The interactive model was found to be the most productive as it used the most appropriate definition of illegitimacy, did not assume that illegitimacy was deviant and included all factors relevant to the process of becoming the mother of an illegitimate baby. Hypotheses were formulated concerning the characteristics and process of becoming the mother of an illegitimate baby in societies with high, medium and low levels of illegitimacy. A sample of 721 pregnant women was taken which included Irish, English and West Indian women as examples of individuals from societies with low, medium and high levels of illegitimacy. Statistical analysis showed that age and class were important predictors of illegitimacy while nationality (ethnicity) had an interactive effect, although both predictors and characteristics of mothers of illegitimate babies were not clear cut. Interviews with 79 mothers of illegitimate babies showed a range of types varying from the young girl who had made a mistake to the well educated, middle class woman who had decided to have an illegitimate baby. Examination of ethnic groups showed that in some cases illegitimacy could be related to normal sexual behaviour whereas in others it was deviant to conventional norms. This did not include, however, those deciding to have an illegitimate baby. To explain all types of illegitimacy a wider perspective therefore had to be taken. Illegitimacy and the one parent family was seen as one way of child bearing rather than as a deviation from the norm of marriage and the two parent family. It was shown that societal support for the one parent family is increasing and this could lead to more women seeing the one parent family as a viable situation in which to rear children, but this depends on the extent to which it is supported in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available