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Growing up to do ‘women’s work’ Exploring two generations of mothers’ relational narratives of household work over the life course

Kettle, Jennifer Emily (2015) Growing up to do ‘women’s work’ Exploring two generations of mothers’ relational narratives of household work over the life course. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the ways in which women make sense of their experiences of household work over the life course and in the context of various relationships, with a particular focus on mother/daughter relationships. Using in-depth interviews with 24 heterosexual women (comprising 12 pairs of mothers and their adult daughters, who themselves were mothers of young children), this research investigates the role household work plays in women’s personal narratives and the construction of relational narrated selves and narrative identities. By moving away from a ‘snapshot’ approach to housework that focuses on the division of tasks within heterosexual couples, this thesis positions household work as part of our personal lives (Smart, 2007), and something that is made sense of relationally, despite dominant discourses of individualism. Similarly, conceiving of people within personal timescapes in which multiple dimensions of time intersect allows for an understanding of household work as part of our personal lives over the life course, as well as inter-generational relationships and broader historical change. Considering multiple social dimensions of gender, heterosexuality and family, allows for an understanding of how accounting for one’s household practices in relation to various discourses can be understood as doing gender, heterosexuality and family. The construction of relational narrated selves in process show how growing up as a woman is shaped particularly by discourses of emphasised femininity (in the context of normative heterosexuality) and good motherhood, and constructing narrative identities in relation to these discourses involves demonstrating acceptable femininity and maternal responsibility, which works to (re)produce gender, heterosexuality and family. By focusing on the themes of relationality, temporality and the interplay between gender, heterosexuality and family across multiple social dimensions, this thesis uses household work as a lens to draw out useful theoretical links between these key themes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.682744
Depositing User: Jennifer Emily Kettle
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2016 14:47
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:10
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12536

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