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Ett liv i olika världar: Unga kvinnors berättelser om svåra livshändelser
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Child and Youth education, Special Education and Counselling.
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Drawing upon data from a qualitative interview study on the life stories of young women, the aim of this study is to analyze young womens experiences of difficult life events. Special interest is directed to how cultural frameworks are reflected in young women’s stories about themselves and the family and school worlds they have lived in. During a period of almost four years, I conducted deep interviews with ten young women on two to four occasions. They were between the ages of sixteen and twenty at the time of the first interview and of different classes and local origins. The young women were recruited to the study through leaders of a youth detention home and of a girl group activity. Methodologically, the thesis is based in the general field of narrative research and more specifically in the field of feminist life story research. I employed a holistic and thematic content analysis inspired by hermeneutic interpretation and the mainly focus has been on what was told in the stories.

The thesis is written in a context of feminist epistemology and from a critical perspective (cf. Harding, 1986, 2004). It includes, among other things, an assumption that there is a social, cultural and historically created imbalance of power between different groups in society (cf. Anderson, 2003). The theoretical concepts that form the basis of this part of the theoretical framework are social worlds (cf. Shibutani, 1955), exclusion (cf. Goffman, 1963; Young, 1990, 2000), belonging (cf. Molin, 2010; Spånberger Weitz, 2011), agency (cf. McNay, 2003, 2004), space of agency (cf. Eduards, 2002) and social positions (cf. Anderson, 2003).

The young women´s stories about family gathered around experiences of parents’ separation, family violence, parental substance abuse and the separation from parents. Their stories of school life gathered mainly around experiences of being different and othered, and these experiences of otherness and alienation were closely linked to bullying, school difficulties and to a general unhappiness at school (cf. Andersson, 1995). In contemplation of life as a series of life events, the young womens stories highlight the importance of difficult life events and the impact they have had on their ability to live their lives. The results portray the importance of considering life as a series of moving events, instant and recurring, and of understanding the consequences of social structures on how life and its conditions change and are linked across borders, between different worlds and different times. In a consideration of the life events as variable, instantaneous and sometimes recurring and changing, every life event has to be viewed as new and important to pay attention to, both as an event in itself and also how this event spreads to other moments and contexts than the time and world in which it occurred. In the assumption of life as moving and of life events as essential elements in a changeable life course, available positions and spaces of agency are made visible in the young womens stories. The cultural frameworks of the good family, the real schoolgirl and an authentic I represent structuring principles for how the events are possible to understand and talk about for the young women. They can be considered as ideal images that both increase and limit their opportunities to make difficult life events and their own actions in relation to the events understandable. In this thesis, it becomes visible that, in order to understand young women’s experiences of difficult life events, we need to place experiences in a context where the different circumstances, such as social positions and local structures, are made visible, analyzed and reflected upon.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2015. , 246 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 60
Keyword [en]
Young women, life story, difficult life events, cultural frameworks, social worlds, otherness, belonging, agency, space of agency, social position, school difficulties
Keyword [sv]
Unga kvinnor, livsberättelser, svåra livshändelser, kulturella tolkningsramar, sociala världar, utanförskap, tillhörighet, handlingskraft, handlingsutrymme, social position, skolsvårigheter
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100603ISBN: 978-91-7601-221-5OAI: diva2:792713
Public defence
2015-03-27, Hörsal G, Humanisthuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-03-06 Created: 2015-03-04 Last updated: 2015-03-27Bibliographically approved

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