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I deserve respect because I’m a good mum: social representations of teenage motherhood and the potential for social change

Mollidor, Claudia (2013) I deserve respect because I’m a good mum: social representations of teenage motherhood and the potential for social change. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

The aim of this thesisis to investigate the representations of teenage motherhood held by teenage mothers and specialised service providers in London and as expressed through public policy of the United Kingdom between 1999 and 2009, with the view of enabling social change in policy and practice. The secondary aim is to investigate the ways in which teenage mothers and specialised practitioners dialogically construct identities for themselves in light of these representations. The theoretical underpinnings of my empirical investigation are Social Representations Theory, especially the ‘structural approach’ and its expression of dilemmatic common sense through core and peripheral representational elements. This thesis also highlights the theory’s associations with social identities,stigma, power and resistance, and the possibility for social change. The qualitative methodological approach of a London‐based case study includes interviews and focus groups as well as observations with teenage mothers, interviews with specialised practitioners, and a thematic analysis of policy documents. The datasets are thematically analysed and juxtaposed through the lens of the ‘structural approach’. Findings suggest that, at the core, teenage motherhood is constructed as problematic by teenage mothers, practitioners and in policy. Simultaneously, all three datasets actively construct and draw on peripheral elements which are at odds with the core. Young mothers construct positive representations of teenage motherhood based on their own experiences and frequently draw on peripheral elements to negotiate positive identities. Specialised practitioners highlight the potential positive outcomes of teenage motherhood with appropriate support, and construct identities for themselves as‘correctors’, ‘defenders’ and ‘protectors’ of teenage mothers despite being exposed to courtesy stigma. Policy paints a heterogeneous picture of teenage motherhood as a multi‐faceted reality that can be managed through specialised professional support. The opportunities for social change based on the discourses and actions through which teenage motherhood is represented are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Claudia Mollidor
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Psychology
Supervisor: Campbell, Catherine
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/621

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