Positive turning points? : young women's experiences of teenage pregnancy, motherhood and education

  • Kay Marie Calver

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This is a qualitative interpretive phenomenological study grounded in a feminist
    research ethic that draws on the narratives of fourteen young women, aged fifteen to
    eighteen. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the young women's
    experiences of pregnancy, motherhood and education. The aim of this thesis is to
    examine how the young women believed becoming pregnant in their teenage years
    shaped and influenced their lives, with a particular focus on their education. The
    dichotomous constructions of teenage pregnancy in public, political and academic
    discourses as either highly problematic or as a positive and remarkable turning point
    are critically considered. Attention is paid to the value judgements that underlie these
    constructions of teenage pregnancy, problematising the kinds of agency that are
    positioned as appropriate for young women.

    The young women who participated in this research framed their pregnancy as an
    opportunity to change and improve their lives through education. They defined
    success through traditional definitions of citizenship and inclusion and viewed
    themselves as either socially included or socially excluded on the premise of whether
    they obtained paid employment. It is argued their narratives are shaped by feelings of
    stigma and shame and by recognition of their frequent positioning as 'problems' to be
    fixed. It is asserted that both constructions of teenage pregnancy as either 'negative' or as a 'positive' turning are invariably problematic as both overtly value and uncritically privilege education and employment. It is argued that both constructions position young women as projects to be worked on and to be transformed and improved, providing a limited and limiting definition of a successful and positive life.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Hull

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