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Visibility and lesbian women working in U.K. schools at the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century

Rhodes, Kathryn Nichola 2020. Visibility and lesbian women working in U.K. schools at the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores the lived experiences of lesbian teachers in U.K. schools from the 1970s to the present day. The study examines the extent to which the participants declared their lesbianism and were visible as lesbian teachers during their careers. It considers different influences determining the degree of their visibility; for example, legislation, social relations and school culture. This is a qualitative study involving a series of semi-structured, narrative interviews with nine self-identified lesbian teachers. Thematic, narrative and psycho-social analysis has been used to understand and present the data. A key concept developed in this thesis is the notion of a ‘liveable professional life’. This conceptualisation extends the work of Cox et al. (2009): a study that explored how a ‘liveable life’ may be fostered (or damaged) at the intersections of identity, place and social relations. Cox et al. (2009) suggest that visibility is calibrated in response to safety and risk factors found at those intersections. This research explores the nature of a ‘liveable professional life’ at the intersections of legislation, geographic place and social relations in the school workplace. It illustrates how lesbian visibility is calibrated, and a liveable professional life generated, in response to those intersections. Furthermore, the thesis argues that schools should be conceptualised as networks of social relations. These networks are bounded by school role (teacher, pupil, parent, governor etcetera) but have porous boundaries. This may result from individuals holding multiple roles (for example, worker and parent) or because personal social relations may transcend organisational boundaries. As a consequence, the study has demonstrated that lesbian women may have reduced control over the calibration of their lesbian identity in the school workplace. It is suggested that this loss of agency is understood as ‘coerced visibilisation’ and should be considered a form of neo-oppression of lesbian teachers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 May 2020
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2021 02:20

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