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Being 50: A psycho-social study of a cohort of women in contemporary society from a life course perspective

By Fiona E. Anderson

Abstract

The economic, demographic and social changes of the latter half of the C20th\ud have influenced the experience of individuals now at 'midlife'. Arguably the\ud impact of these changes has been more profound for women; specifically in the\ud UK for those educated to be the wives, mothers and carers of industrial Britain\ud (Newsom, 1963). Now around 50 years old this group of women are likely to\ud experience a lengthy period of 'postmaternity' (Sheriff and Weatherall, 2009)\ud extending to over thirty years in many cases. This research considers the\ud experience of this metaphorically entitled 'telescopic' cohort (Goldstein and\ud Schlag, 1999). The major corpus of age related research assumes a linear\ud developmental progression of life stages (Erikson, 1951, 1968; Gould, 1978;\ud Levinson, 1978; Levinson, 1996; Klohnen et al., 1996; Miner-Rubinio, 2004).\ud Drawing on life course theory (Elder, 1995; Runyan, 1982; Super, 1980)\ud enables this research to explore how women may have changed assumptions\ud about themselves and their expectations as the social world has changed\ud around them, moreover offers an alternative to the essentialist, linear,\ud deterministic models of ageing. This feminist poststructuralist examination of the\ud experience of women at 'midlife' is divided into two parts; firstly the 'lived life'\ud which examines demographic changes, and drawing on material from 'Jackie'\ud magazine, considers discourses of femininity and the expectations for, and of,\ud girls. The 'told story' is then explored using narrative interview material. How\ud women 'story' their lives and their understanding of 'self' at midlife is examined\ud within the context of the changing world and their ageing bodies. The research\ud revealed that the experience of 'midlife' for this cohort of women is narrated as\ud a time of change in social circumstances with some 'gains' and some 'losses',\ud however it is not storied as a time of inevitable 'crisis'. Moreover despite the\ud plethora of literature portraying the menopause as problematic, this was not\ud supported by the interview material

Topics: Life course, ; Feminism, ; Post structuralist, ; Critical realist, ; Contemporary society, ; 20th Century, ; Midlife, ; Women, ; Narrative interviews
Publisher: University of Bradford
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:bradscholars.brad.ac.uk:10454/4898
Provided by: Bradford Scholars

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