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Title: Motherhood experiences through transformations : narratives of intergenerational continuities and changes in post-Communist Poland
Author: Awsiukiewicz-Tomczak, Anna Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 0460
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2009
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In 1989 the transition in Poland from autocratic communism to neoliberal capitalism precipitated a most fundamental and radical crossover from paternal state to social liberalism. This thesis is based on a narrative enquiry aimed at examining the impact of these shifting socio-historical contexts on mothers' lives in Poland through a focus on two groups of women who became mothers before and after 1989. This thesis examines the presumed new opportunities, greater choice and freedoms offered by this new neoliberal context in Poland through the narratives of the participants in this study. It investigates how the changing contexts facilitate the appearance of new but also sustain the presence of old cultural models of motherhood. The vast political, economic, social and cultural transformations were dictated by the globally overarching framework of the neoliberal or market metanarrative reshaping power relations and structures and impacting on everyday individual experiences. The changing role of the state, in particular in the area of childcare and the support offered to working mothers, reshaped constructions of motherhood and experiences of mothering and contributed to growing stratification amongst Polish mothers. The majority of sociological analyses of this period defme post-communist socio-economic groups dichotomously, as either 'winners' or 'losers'. Both groups of mothers participating in this study (constituting the older and younger cohort) can be identified as 'winners' due to their more privileged socio-economic positions, and as such they represent a significant minority of Polish society. This thesis demonstrates how these mothers have been affected by the transformations by tracing continuities and changes in their practices, understandings and everyday experiences of mothering. The analysis shows that in spite of their relatively privileged position these women's experiences as mothers are affected too, in various ways, by the new neoliberal context. This research focus offers valuable insights into the specific lived experiences of this understudied group of assumed 'winners'. The data from the two cohorts of mothers and the conclusions reached through its analysis demonstrate the extent to which political upheaval impacts the normative cultural models of motherhood. This fine grained focus on the lived experiences of two groups of women confirms the persistence of enduring images of the working and coping Polish mother. The emergence of new pressures and challenges presented to mothers as embodied in the glamorised images of the 'New Polish Woman' appear in the narratives of the participants alongside old rhetorical constructions such as Matka Polka. The analysis in this thesis offers important contributions to sociological studies by questioning the existing oversimplified 'winner/loser' categorisations, and demonstrating how ideologies of motherhood discipline and circumscribe experiences of mothering. This thesis also provides a qualitative contribution to better understandings of the deeply textured aspects of women's lives as mothers in the context of shifting social, cultural, economic and political environments by illuminating change and continuity in the areas of gendered relations, constructions of selves, discourses and practices around motherhood. mothering and individuality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available