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Class, motherhood and mature studentship: (re)constructing and (re)negotiating subjectivity

Morgan, Melanie 2015. Class, motherhood and mature studentship: (re)constructing and (re)negotiating subjectivity. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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‘Class, motherhood and mature studentship – (re-)constructing and (re)- negotiating subjectivity’ is a thesis which explores the complex psychosocial dimensions of aspiration, motivation and participation in higher education as a working class mature student and mother. Psychosocial interviews were used to explore the lives and experiences of thirteen working class mothers who became mature students at four Universities in South Wales. Taking an explicitly psychosocial approach to analysis, and drawing on the researcher’s own subjectivity as a tool used in concert with an eclectic range of relational, psychoanalytic work, it considers the emotional/affective and unconscious elements of aspiration, motivation and the consequences for subjectivity as working class women, and as mothers and students within the landscape of contemporary neo-liberalism. The thesis aims to offer nuanced understandings of aspiration, motivation and transformation as a complex psychosocial phenomena centred around a web of intergenerational and affective practices in relation to classed relational, cultural, historical, geographical, and temporal contexts. As a thesis it argues that; aspiration, motivation and participation in higher education needs to be understood within the context of real women’s lives and the relational and affective landscape of family, class, gender and culture if issues of aspiration are to be addressed. It considers that paying attention to unconscious processes is central to academic understandings of this psychosocial phenomena, supporting the warrant for psychoanalytically inflected research methodologies. It contends that aspiration, motivation, participation in higher education and social mobility are complex processes containing painful aspects, conflicts and contradictions. It argues also that the way in which higher education is used by the women as a space in which to (re)- negotiate subjectivity is more complex than government agendas of social mobility take account of. Finally, in highlighting and exploring the links between trauma and higher education, it suggests and supports the idea that the potential of the ‘space’ of higher education goes beyond transparent universal understandings. In addition to being a material space, it was also an imagined and emotional ‘place’. For the women in this study it was a ‘place’ of safety and containment but not without risk.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 May 2016
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 16:14

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