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Mothers, work and childcare : choices, beliefs and dilemmas

Page, Jools (2010) Mothers, work and childcare : choices, beliefs and dilemmas. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis, Mothers, Work and Childcare: Choices, Beliefs and Dilemmas asks two questions: What factors are women in England likely to need to take into consideration when making employment decisions and childcare choices when their babies are under twelve months of age? What importance, if any, do mothers place on having carers in day care settings who `love' their children? The thesis begins by introducing the context and rationale for the study, including 21St century policies in England to encourage mothers to return to the workforce (HMT, 2004). A critical review of the literature explores three key themes: An historical overview of women in the workforce in the UK; Attachment Theory, and Policy perspectives in England since 1989. The thesis then discusses and justifies its life historical exploration of six mothers' decision-making about work and childcare. A four-staged process of meaning- making is used to analyse and interpret the women's life stories which are presented as `Interpreted Narratives'. Seven key themes emerged from the analysis: Childhood, Decision-making about returning to work, Influences and Dilemmas, Expressions of Emotion, and Indicators for Change, Identity and `Love Drawing on the data and key literature in the field three of these themes are discussed in detail: Decision-making about returning to work, Expressions of Emotion, and `Love'. The thesis contributes to the field firstly by highlighting the experiences of six mothers when they made decisions about child care early in their children's lives. This rich data complements the extant literature which reports broader, quantitative and generalisable studies. Secondly, it indentifies some of the complex decisions which women have to make when considering returning to work when their babies are young. Thirdly, the thesis explored the saliency of `love' in the context of mothers' choices, beliefs and dilemmas around choosing child care and introduced the notion of `professional love'. Finally, the study has developed a fourstage process of meaning-making which could be applied in life historical research focusing on other topics. The thesis argues that mothers of young children view the concept of `love' as a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to return to paid work. An original facet of the thesis is its introduction of the notion of `professional love' (the love of a practitioner for a child in his/her care) which, it is argued, needs further conceptualisation and exploration in early childhood education and care contexts. The thesis concludes that mothers' stories of their personal experiences are important and their decision- making is complex, involving compromises between `ideal' childcare arrangements and `real-life' choices of care.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.522044
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 09:11
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2016 09:11
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10352

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