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Narrating Women’s Health Identities in the Context of Community Living

By Judith Sixsmith and Margaret Boneham


This chapter presents a qualitative exploration of the relationship between\ud social capital, health and womanhood for a group of younger working class\ud women in a socially deprived community in Bolton, UK. The project, funded\ud by the Health Development Agency involved interviews with 25 younger\ud women aged between 19 and 38 years. Most were single parents of young\ud children who were currently unemployed. Our research identified the complex\ud ways in which younger women took ownership of their health within the social\ud context of family, friendships and community living. Their narratives about\ud health focused on experiences of motherhood and community living and were\ud embedded in networks of social capital (Putnam, 1995, 2000). Women’s health\ud identities reflected social constructions of motherhood and caring, in which\ud tiredness and depression were seen as normal parts of everyday life. These\ud women took responsibility for their own and others’ health becoming health\ud experts in their own right and sometimes critical of medical expertise. Shared\ud norms located in the common space of this socially deprived community were\ud a basis for younger women’s choices about lifestyle which were not always\ud beneficial for individual or family health. The links between health and\ud community living were made evident in this research emphasizing the\ud importance of a narratives approach

Topics: HQ, R1, H1
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:

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