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Ageing experiences of younger women: Narratives of embodied female identities

Li, A. (2021). Ageing experiences of younger women: Narratives of embodied female identities. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Situated in a feminist perspective, this qualitative study explored the embodied ageing experiences of seven women between the ages of 30 and 34, as they encountered the first wave of physical change and identity shifts. Their accounts were analysed using Critical Narrative Analysis which resulted in three overarching themes: fertility: urgency and ambivalence; cusp of awareness: noticing and forgetting; and surviving ageing: crisis and agency. The themes were then destabilised by way of the feminist lens of interrogation and further synthesised. The discussion centred on how powerful social discourses intersect to construct imperatives that shape the female identity: the ‘appropriate’ female life course; the ‘good’ woman’ is “forever young”; the ‘good’ woman is ‘ageless’ and in control; and the dilemma of ‘feminism versus femininity’. The female ageing experience was found to be characterised by deep contradiction, incongruence, and senses of ‘should’ and shame. Identities are narratively negotiated, perpetually formed and performed anew. Implications for Counselling Psychology theory and practice were subsequently explored and suggestions were made for the direction of future research.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Li thesis 2021_redacted.pdf]
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