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Title: South Asian womens narratives of intimacy and marriage in the UK: Making sense of experience through cultural scripts, space and objects
Author: Majumdar, Anamika
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 3432
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the concept of intimacy through exploring experiences of closeness in relationships and how such experiences are understood in the lives of South Asian married women living in the UK. In the context of a lack of empirical exploration of South Asian women’s experiences of intimacy in marriage, the main aim of the research was to consider how participants made sense of their experiences of intimacy/closeness and how such experiences were culturally mediated. The theoretical perspectives of narrative psychology and socio-cultural psychology were combined to explore the relationship between intimacy and culture in the experience of marriage. A narrative psycho-social approach was utilised along with visual research methods to focus on not only the stories told about relationships but also the physical settings in which relationships occurred. As such, the overall focus of the two empirical studies was the identification of experiences of feeling close or not feeling close in personal relationships, and how this was made sense of through narrative and photographs. Nineteen South Asian married women living in the UK were interviewed in total. The first study used life-history interviewing with participants’ own pre-existing photographs, to aid participants in talking about the places they had lived and the close relationships they had in these places, over the course of their lives. In the second study, participants produced a set of photographs of objects and spaces relevant to their everyday married lives, and constructed narratives around them, together with the researcher at interview. The accounts produced were analysed using a combination of narrative analytical approaches, paying attention to broad relationship storylines and particular spatially located episodes. By exploring understandings of intimacy/closeness in South Asian women’s lives over time, and in relation to social, material and spatial contexts, essentialised notions of South Asian women and marriages are problematised. Closeness had various meanings for each participant. While scripts of companionate marriage and disclosing intimacy were often upheld as ideals, ambivalent feelings were resolved by modifying such scripts to include more traditional values of commitment, gendered roles, and essentialised notions of South Asian womanhood. Everyday marital practices within the home, which were mediated by spaces and objects, were also associated with feelings of closeness, indicating participants’ understandings of intimacy beyond self-disclosure and sexuality. In this context, extended family dynamics were problematised as an obstacle to the creation of symbolic and literal iv spaces for marital intimacy. In relation to the lack of empirical literature on the experience of intimacy in South Asian women’s marriages in the UK, this thesis highlights the plurality of experiences and understandings of both intimacy and culture in South Asian women’s lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available