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Title: Constructions of fatherhood during the 'transition to the empty nest' stage of parenting
Author: Ruszkowska, Justyna Teresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 2450
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis presents a discursive psychological analysis of the ways in which fatherhood is constructed in a variety of contexts during the transition to the ‘empty nest’. The body of the data used in the study consists of thirty three Internet articles describing parenting challenges related to the event of children leaving home, a hundred and sixty four postings of parents’ online conversations about transition to the ‘empty nest’ as well as nineteen semi-structured interviews with fathers whose children have left, or were in the process of leaving home. This range of data was firstly collected in order to explore the breadth of the fatherhood constructions available in everyday settings. Secondly, the aim of the study was to investigate whether the accounts constructed in different contexts varied and how those discrepancies contributed to the understanding of fatherhood during the ‘empty nest’. Finally, the different types of data were analysed to contribute to current methodological debates about the role of interviews in qualitative research. Each of the 3 empirical chapters presents an analysis of constructions of fatherhood from these separate contexts. Firstly, I argue that parenting ‘experts’ construct ‘empty nest’ fatherhood in three distinctive ways: through contrasting mothers’ and fathers’ approaches to their children leaving home, overlooking fathers’ role in ‘empty nest transition’, and by presenting both parents as of equal importance in the process. Secondly, I found that mothers in the Internet chat-room conversations construct ‘empty nest’ fathers and fatherhood as problematic. Thirdly, the investigation of fathers’ online conversations explicates the discursive techniques used for maintaining the fathering identity after the children leave home, the representations of the ‘emotional impact’ of the ‘empty nest’, and strategies employed to maintain a sense of masculinity and normativity in the face of ‘emotion’. Then, the study focuses on the interviews with fathers and compares their findings with those from the naturally occurring data analysed in the earlier chapters. In the first instance, the findings unique to the interview data are addressed by exploring the fathers’ understanding of the circumstances which affect the perceptions of their children leaving. Then, the study turns towards the interview findings compatible with those from the Internet data and assesses the influence of such compatibility on the current methodological debates in the field of qualitative research. As a whole, the findings of the thesis enrich not only the existing literature into fatherhood and the ‘empty nest syndrome’ but also explore the relationships between the concepts of fatherhood and masculinity. Finally, the thesis addresses the merits of naturally occurring versus interview data which contributes to the current debates in the field of qualitative and discursive methodologies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available