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Locating the subject : towards a reading of young women, identity and postmodernity

By Shelley Budgeon


The aim of this research project is to examine theories of identity formation within the context of individualisation processes and the shift of social formations from modernity to postmodernity. The form and content of identity narratives being constructed by young women aged 16 to 21 are used as the empirical basis for addressing this research problem. Interviews were conducted with 33 young women and 5 practitioners across five different sites to explore what kinds of identities were under construction. The project is organised around the relationship between theory and the empirical such that data generated through\ud interviews are utilised for the purposes of interrogating the ontological assumptions of theories of reflexive modernisation, particularly the work of Anthony Giddens. Working from within a poststructuralist framework a move is made beyond a deconstructive critique through to the development of alternate strategies for reading the identities under construction. It is this kind of integration between theory and the empirical that is central to sociological analysis and the furthering of theoretical projects. It is suggested that these\ud young women were constructing a relation to the self where the self is defined as independent and autonomous. A Foucauldian approach is used to theorise this relation to\ud the self and to critique the assumptions of reflexive modernisation. Emergent themes that are explored in relation to this construction of the self include technologies and narratives of the self; the organisation of identity and difference; embodiment and representational\ud practices; intimacy and individualisation; and the emergence of 'micro politicised' identities

Publisher: School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Year: 2000
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