A Fine Balance: Stories of parents who climb

Coates, Emily (2012) A Fine Balance: Stories of parents who climb. ["eprint_fieldopt_thesis_type_phd" not defined] thesis, Buckinghamshire New University.

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The thesis is based on research that uses a post-structural narrative or storied approach to examine the experiences of parents who have or continue to rock climb. It focuses on the family, leisure and working lives of seven heterosexual couples with children in the UK. The work of Michel Foucault provides the theoretical framework. In Part One of the thesis his earlier work on discourses, knowledge and discipline are used to analyse the subjects that are formed by discourses on parenting and climbing. This part of the thesis is concluded by bringing these two fields together through examining the notions of individual parental and family leisure and the notions of risk and responsibility. Foucault’s later work on experiences and the technologies of self is used in the analysis and discussion of the data in the third part of the thesis. Data for this thesis were collected through in-depth narrative interviews with both partners in the seven couples, six of these couples were interviewed twice, and the interviews were supported by participant observation. Influenced by post-structuralism and the ethical dilemma of maintaining the anonymity of both partners in a couple, fictional writing strategies were used to represent the data in the form of five short stories. These stories and the resulting discussion highlight the complexity of parents’ everyday lives as they negotiate time and different life-worlds in the early years of parenthood. Couples’ experiences were often quite different and any one individual’s experience could be contradictory. Whilst parenting did constrain climbing commitment, many of the mothers and fathers used creative practices to maintain their commitment, with some actively critiquing some of the discourses of intensive and gendered parenting, which disciplines parents (and especially mothers) to sacrifice their own time for their children. Findings from this thesis suggest that parenting remains gendered, mothers were more likely to perceive themselves as having more responsibility (and thus less likely to take risks) and feel guilty about sacrificing time with children for themselves. However, many of the parents did actively negotiate to share parenting, and many of the fathers also were less willing to take risks with the increased responsibility that came with fatherhood. Parenting was shown to be relational, in that fathers and mothers supported each other’s maintenance of leisure, working and family spaces. Although the parents’ educational, working and age identities cannot be ignored, it is possible that when both parents are committed to the same activity such as climbing that they are more likely to maintain equitable gendered relations. Finally, in terms of family leisure, this research showed that some parents did adopt a child-centred approach to their ‘free-time’ and were more likely to perceive their children as ‘at risk.’ However, many of the regular climbers were impacted by their identities as climbers, and saw taking children into ‘risk spaces’ as potentially beneficial, and climbing as a family activity that was used to pass down their own family values (not necessarily ‘expert derived’ ones). In this way, parents construct themselves as ethical beings and individualise ‘universal’ moral codes.

Item Type: Thesis (["eprint_fieldopt_thesis_type_phd" not defined])
Divisions: ?? BucksNewUniversity ??
Depositing User: ULCC Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 09:07
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2017 19:26
URI: https://bnu.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131

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