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Title: From guilt to God's will : the experience of women caring for their partners who think of leaving, and how it is socially constructed through technologies of the self
Author: Fessler, Judith
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 3247
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2018
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This research explores the experience of women who have become carers for their partners and think about leaving their relationship, and how that experience is socially constructed. This is a new area, as care research has not previously considered a desire to leave. Seven white British women caring for male partners were interviewed and two analyses were undertaken. A thematic analysis identified five themes. These both extended previous qualitative findings about poor relationships, self-sacrifice, imprisonment, loss of identity and balancing needs, by relating them to leaving, and introduced themes the desire to shape one’s future, and the difficulty of thinking and talking about leaving. The analysis suggests that the women experienced their desire to leave as an acute ethical issue. A Foucauldian discourse analysis focused on socially constructed ethical aspirations and the technologies of the self undertaken in their service. The disparate ideals of traditional, gendered altruism on the one hand, and neoliberal or humanist aspirations for justice, success, or commitment to the self set up complex ideological dilemmas, and the associated practices affected women’s power and agency in their relationship, and the possibility of leaving. The thesis discusses the implications of the FDA for the subjective experience described in the first analysis, based on an existentialist/social constructionist model of the self, and relates the findings to existing care research, and counselling psychology practice. Specifically, it suggests that while the skills taught in the cognitive behavioural therapy model currently used in work with carers could be liberatory, policy, research and clinical practice should also consider issues of gender and power, and focus on carers’ relationships, and on individual values and desires.
Supervisor: Harnagea, Christina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available