Threatened identities: The mothering experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee women in England

Haynes, Alice (2013) Threatened identities: The mothering experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee women in England. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis reports a qualitative study undertaken to explore the mothering experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee women in England, with a specific focus on how these experiences affect their maternal identity. Maternal identity is
defined here as a woman’s perceived sense of competence in her role as a mother. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-two asylum-seeking and refugee mothers. The study fills a significant gap in the research literature. Firstly, it
provides a comprehensive account of the experiences related to mothering of asylum-seeking and refugee women in England. Secondly, it relates these experiences to the women’s maternal identity. Thirdly, drawing on both sociology
and psychology and different approaches to analysing data, the thesis employs two theoretical frameworks, resilience theory and impression management theory, to try to understand the ways in which maternal identity can be protected.

The mothers in the sample spoke about a range of experiences that impacted on their mothering practices and abilities. Many of these experiences were spoken about as presenting challenges to mothering. These included negotiating an opaque and hostile asylum system, poverty, housing problems, separation from children, social isolation, negotiating a new culture, parenting alone and intimate partner
violence (IPV).

Some of these experiences threatened the expressed maternal identity of some women. These experiences were threatening because they created a barrier between
mothering expectations and actions. However, some women seemed more able to maintain a sense of competence in their mothering abilities, despite encountering multiple challenges to mothering. This is explained using resilience theory. The
study adopts an alternative approach to understanding how maternal identity can be protected. It employs impression management theory to explore the way in which participants used language to negotiate their identities as ‘good’ mothers in the face of threats. The implications of the findings are discussed with regards to both government policy and those professionals working with asylum-seeking and refugee mothers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
Depositing User: Jonathan Clark
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2013 16:15
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2013 16:15
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/47076
DOI:

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