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The impact of social influences on a woman's sense of self

Wilson, P.J. (2009). The impact of social influences on a woman's sense of self. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Western society arguably contains contradictory and confusing social and political discourses regarding the role of women and the construction of motherhood. This study explores the lived experience of women who have decided to be full time stayat- home mothers and have experienced identity challenges as a result. Through the interpretative phenomenological analysis of interviews with eight full-time stay-athome mothers this study seeks to understand how the decision to be a stay-at-home mother may impact upon a woman's identity and how identity challenges are managed. As a result of this analysis it is proposed that identity challenges may be experienced and managed through social comparison processes, both within and between groups. It is further postulated that the decision to take and hold the identity occurs via a process of continuous re-evaluation and re-commitment to the role, which appears to be influenced by both traditional and feminist ideologies. This model is discussed in relation to the literature on social identity, and in particular Breakwell's (1986) theory of identity threat. It is suggested that a greater understanding of both the challenges and the coping strategies available to women at the personal, interpersonal and intergroup levels, and how these are contextualised within a social framework, may be beneficial for counselling psychologists working with this population.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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