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Title: Parenting the stillborn : gender, identity and bereavement
Author: Murphy, Samantha Louise
ISNI:       0000 0001 3434 8054
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2009
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A sociological framework for explaining parental experiences of stillbirth is presented. Foregrounded is gender, and from an analysis of 39 interviews with 12 sets of bereaved parents and 16 mothers (22 of whom suffered a stillbirth and six of whom a neonatal death), comes a sociological perspective on the reasons why men and women experience stillbirth in different ways. Using techniques informed by grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1990), the identities of the stillborn and the parent are considered, acknowledging that parental identity cannot be understood without engaging with the child to whom they are relationally placed. As the relationships to the unborn baby differ for men and women, so does the experience of stillbirth. The findings widen the knowledge base of a sociologically underresearched group. In delineating the factors that lead parents to expect that pregnancy will proceed un-problematically, this thesis empirically supports Hockey and Draper’s (2005) call for theories of identity to be extended to encompass pre-birth and postdeath constructions; those conditions that allow identity construction to take place pre-birth are identified. Walter (1999) is challenged in his want of a more nuanced understanding of how the integration of the deceased is managed and how gender impacts upon this process; the gendered experience of pregnancy is central to the processes that lead to the integration of the stillborn posthumously. Also contested is the tendency in sociological work on pregnancy loss to conflate discrete types of bereavement for inclusion in a single category. This thesis, therefore, develops a sociological understanding of the experience of stillbirth, the structural and interactional conditions and consequences of which are gendered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available