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Title: Habitus dislocation and the importance of affinity groups for older lesbians and bisexual women
Author: Wilkens, Jill
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 3266
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2016
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This research investigates the intersection of ageing, gender, class and sexual identity with a particular focus on the role of same-sexuality social groups and networks for older lesbians and bisexual women. Thirty-five women aged between 57 and 73 were interviewed about a range of topics including what it was like to come out in the 1950s and 1960s, their education and employment, their feelings about ageing, whether they had been lonely or isolated and their experiences of attending groups for lesbians and bisexual women. The research found that many participants experienced feelings of being ‘out of place’ that were not to do with financial or structural inequalities but were culturally and socially shaped by aspects of their social mobility, generation, gender and sexuality. Using an intersectional approach, I draw on Bourdieu’s work, using the concept of habitus dislocation to consider the contradictions of these mobilities. I suggest that many of my participants faced unprecedented and unique disjunctures between their original habitus and the new classed, sexual and gendered locations in which they finally ‘arrived’. The research indicates that participants’ friendships and families of choice, as well as the social groups they have created and attended across the life course, have had an important role to play in helping to alleviate the feelings of difference that are a consequence of multiple mobilities. For many participants they are sites of resilience and help to promote positive ageing, offering a sense of belonging to a generation of lesbian and bisexual women who have faced marginalisation across their life course. However, they are also locations of hierarchy and privilege, where some are excluded or precariously positioned. This study offers a unique view of habitus dislocation as a consequence of multiple mobilities across the life course of a generational cohort of women, often under-represented or absent from sexualities research. It makes an important contribution to the literature on lesbian, gay and bisexual ageing that focuses solely on loneliness and isolation and the significance of social support.
Supervisor: Robinson, Yvonne ; Weeks, Jeffrey Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral