This is our life, this is our child: mothers dancing in the margins of disability

Ypinazar, Valmae Anne (2003) This is our life, this is our child: mothers dancing in the margins of disability. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This study examines the narratives of 15 mothers who each have (or had) a child who is medically, educationally and socio-culturally constituted as having a disability. This research interrogates the mothers’ narratives to consider motherhood from the discursive multiple position/ings of the society in which they live. The central research questions are: What are the lived experiences of these women who have a child who does not fit the dominant socio-cultural expectation of a 'normal' child? What subject positions are available for these women? How do they position themselves and how are they positioned in multiple discursive sites such as medicine and education? By drawing on multiple methodological frames, the study explores the lived experiences and meanings as these mothers (re)construct the discourse of motherhood. Qualitative methods were used to design the research and gather data. Poststructural and feminist perspectives are added to provide additional methods of data analysis. Poststructuralist theorisings are considered new to the field of disability studies and hence provide an opportunity to re-examine subjectivity, power/knowledge and agency in fresh ways, as various mothers in this study reject, (re)construct and even rupture dominant nondisabled assumptions not only of disability, but also of motherhood. The women’s narratives transverse multiple discursive sites but particular attention is paid to medical and educational discourses and the complex interplay of relations of power constituted with/in these sites. The outcome of analysis suggests many women with a child with a disability actively take up the subject position of 'good mother' in keeping with the dominant discourse and ideology of motherhood available in Western society and (re)construct their lives as 'normal', while simultaneously encountering societal and attitudinal barriers which continue to marginalise their child named with a disability and by association, their families. Professionals can do much to dismantle barriers encountered by these mothers and work collaboratively to ensure inclusive life experiences are available. This thesis adds to the body of literature in disability studies by adding new forms of analysis of the interaction between the lived experiences of mothers and society, serving to challenge Western socio-cultural ways of ‘knowing’ about the intersection of motherhood and disability.

Item ID: 1181
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Mothers’ narratives, Disability, Children, Qualitative methods, Poststructural and feminist perspectives, Subjectivity, Power, Knowledge, Agency, Medical and educational discourses
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2006
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111708 Health and Community Services @ 0%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111703 Care for Disabled @ 0%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education @ 0%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130312 Special Education and Disability @ 0%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111707 Family Care @ 0%
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