The transition into womanhood : a feminist, social constructivist analysis

Steenkamp, Maria Magrieta (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2005-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: To address the research question of how young women themselves experience the transition into womanhood, by looking at the articulated subjective experiences of young women involved in negotiating the process of 'becoming a woman'. The research question was approached from a post-modern feminist and social constructionist perspective, using qualitative methodology. In-depth interviews were conducted with two groups of young women - five white, middle class students who are involved in the Women's Mental Health Research Project (WMHRP) as interviewers, and five coloured, working-class young women who would be interviewees in the WMHRP. These two groups of participants were recruited from different social backgrounds in order to investigate contextual variations in their identity negotiation processes. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed according to constructivist grounded theory protocol (Charmaz, 2003; Henwood & Pidgeon, 2003). Three main categories were constructed from the data, namely 1) the girl/woman dichotomy, 2) the "woman imperative", and 3) different processes experienced. In chapter one, an introduction is provided which discusses the importance of the research question to feminist and developmental psychologists, and highlights the paucity of research on the topic within these areas. Chapter two examines the empirical literature surrounding the research question, which highlights the marginalization of the transition into womanhood by psychological researchers. Anthropological studies of 'rites of passage' are also briefly discussed. In chapter three the theoretical framework that informed the present study is discussed, namely 1) social constructionism, with its focus on discourse and its rejection of essentialism, and 2) feminism, with its emphasis on gendered identity, difference and power. Concepts central to the present study, namely development, gender, and identity are also discussed in this chapter. Chapter four provides an explanation of the methodology and methods that were used in the present study, while chapter five presents the results and a discussion of the results. Finally, chapter six consists of a discussion of the conclusions that can be drawn from the findings, as well as their implications for research and practice.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie spreek die vraag aan van hoe jong vroue self die oorgang na vrou-wees ervaar. Dit word ondersoek aan die hand van die subjektiewe belewenisse van jong vroue midde-in die proses van vrou-word, soos deur hulself geartikuleer. Die navorsingsvraagstuk is benader vanuit 'n post-moderne feministiese en sosiaalkonstruktiewe perspektief, deur gebruik van kwalitatiewe metodologie. In-diepte onderhoude is met twee groepe jong vroue gevoer - vyf hoofsaaklik blanke studente uit die middelstand wat betrokke is by die "Women's Mental Health Research Project" (WMHRP) as onderhoudvoerders, en vyf kleurling jong vroue uit die werksklas, met wie die onderhoude gevoer is. Hierdie twee groepe deelnemers is uit verskillende sosiale agtergronde gekies ten einde kontekstuele variasies in hulle identiteitsvormingsprosesse te kan ondersoek. Transkripsies van die onderhoude is ontleed aan die hand van konstruksievisties-gefundeerde teorie protokol (Charmaz, 2003; Henwood & Pidgeon, 2003). Drie hoof-kategoriee is uit die data gekonstrueer, naamlik die meisie/vrou dikotomie, die verskillende prosesse beleef, en die "vrou imperatief'. In hoofstuk een, wat die onderwerp inlei, word die belangrikheid van navorsing vir feministiese en ontwikkelingsielkundiges bespreek, en word die skaarste aan navorsing oor die onderwerp uitgelig. Hoofstuk twee bied 'n bespreking van die empiriese Iiteratuur rondom die navorsingsvraagstuk, wat die marginalisasie van die oorgang tot vrou-wees onder navorsers in die sielkunde onderstreep. Antropologiese studies oor inisiasie-rituele word ook vlugtig bespreek. In hoofstuk drie word die teoretiese raamwerk wat die studie inlig bespreek, naamlik 1) sosiaal-konstruksionisme, met fokus op diskoers en die verwerping van essensialisme, en 2) feminisme, met klem op geslagsidentiteit, differensiasie en mag. Konsepte sentraal tot hierdie stud ie, naamlik ontwikkeling, geslag en identiteit word ook in hierdie hoofstuk bespreek. Hoofstuk vier bied 'n verduideliking van die metodologie en metodes wat in hierdie studie aangewend is, terwyl in hoofstuk vyf die navorsingsresultate en 'n bespreking daarvan, aangebied word. Hoofstuk ses as slothoofstuk bestaan uit 'n bespreking van die gevolgtrekkings waartoe aan die hand van die navorsingsbevindinge geraak kan word, sowel as die implikasies daarvan vir navorsing en die praktyk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20421
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