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Baby Love: Self-Evaluation Processes of Young Mothers.

Bruffell, Hilary. (2006) Baby Love: Self-Evaluation Processes of Young Mothers. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This thesis addressed how young women make sense of their experiences of becoming a mother against a background of societal negative attitudes towards 'teenage mothers' and focused on social psychological processes which may mediate the impact of such negative attitudes on the self-concept. Research comprised of three empirical studies exploring the lives of young mothers through the eyes of the macro context as portrayed in the national press, from the perspective of the young women themselves and from the perspective of a micro context. This work draws on the literature of stigma theory to examine the processes involved in maintaining a positive sense of self. It explores sources of self-evaluation including the categories that young mothers invoke and the meanings that they attach to these categories. Findings are discussed in relation to theories of stigma and self-categorisation. Study One examined conflicting images of motherhood, including teenage mothers, within the national press during a randomly chosen 2 week period and employed qualitative content analysis. Findings suggest that the media constructs a broad range of categories of motherhood, including good and bad mothers, with teenage mothers in the latter category. Study Two was based on semi-structured interviews with 30 homeless young mothers during pregnancy and early motherhood. Data was analysed in two parts using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and showed that having a baby provides some young mothers with a motivation to change their lives and behaviour. Whilst young mothers were aware of negative labels applied to teenage mothers, they did not believe them to be appropriate to them. By identifying the positive attributes shared with the category of good mothers they were able to position themselves within this category. Analysis also focused on the role of self-efficacy and findings suggest that by taking the decision to continue with the pregnancy the young women took responsibility for their lives and thereby created a sense of self-efficacy. Study Three examined categories invoked by 8Youth Workers in the young women's micro environment and employed IPA. Findings suggest that the Youth Workers draw on similar categories to the young mothers. However they appeared to position the young mothers within the category of 'good teenage mother'. It is argued that placement of young mothers within this category may have implications for the autonomy of young mothers. This research examined the experiences of young mothers in terms of both the macro and micro context. Findings suggest that categories are dynamic and constructed within interactions; this allows for the individual to negotiate and renegotiate category memberships. As such it would appear that there are processes that may have an ameliorating effect on stigma and as such stigma may not always result in negative outcomes. In the case of young mothers it appears that having a baby may provide some young women with the opportunity to take control of their lives and can provide a catalyst to turn their lives around and re-engage with education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Bruffell, Hilary.
Date : 2006
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2006.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 30 Apr 2019 08:08
Last Modified : 20 Aug 2019 15:33
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/851501

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