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Title: Geographies of home : a study of women's socio-spatial narratives of home and self-identity
Author: Avis, Hannah
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The aim of this thesis is to explore women's experiences and understandings of home. Two very different perspectives are evident in existing feminist literature on women and home. The first emphasises connections between home, the distinction between public and private, and the perpetuation of constraining gendered roles and expectations. The second emphasises the symbolic, emotional and personal expressivity of home spaces for women. This thesis seeks to examine the interface between these perspectives as it is played out in women's lives. I show how women make and re-make their self-identities partly through and in relation to home spaces. I explore the relationship between constructions of gender and of home through women's personal accounts of their home spaces. The accounts were collected through repeat, in-depth interviews with six women aged between twenty seven and thirty four, who own their homes, and who, at the start of the interviews, were living with partners and had no children. The interviews take the form of narratives in which the women tell of both the everyday nature of the homes in which they live, and their experiences - including memories and expectations - of home. Chapter Four, the first of three substantive chapters, examines the interweaving of homeownership and adulthood in stories of complex transitions. I suggest that the process of homeownership can usefully be understood as a 'rite of passage' which, while potentially creating spaces in which the women feel grown up, is problematically gendered. These problems are articulated through women's discussion of the difficulties they encounter in balancing their needs for privacy with ideas and expectations of intimacy and care. Chapter Five focuses on stories about mothers, mothering and mother-daughter relationships. Considering women's memories of their mothers in relation to their stories about their current homes, I highlight ways in which narratives of home are infused with construction of 'woman' as 'mother'. The dense interweaving of'woman', 'mother' and 'home' generates fusions and confusions that are manifest in socio-spatial limitations and frustrations the interviewees describe. In Chapter Six, I consider the idea of home as a space within which family relations are rooted, returned to and relived. Thrown into sharp relief by the loss of past home spaces, the transcripts suggest a sense of home as an emotional journey of relationships embedded within identifiable and accessible spaces. There is also a tension in these stories between a desire for continuity and the pressure of change. The thesis concludes by examining the metaphor of a web or collage in which the experiences of home and self are woven together, arguing that this is a useful way to represent and analyse the multiple and fractured strands of experience and expectation that make up women's relationship with home spaces.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available