African-Caribbean Women Ageing Without Children: Examining the Impact of Life Course Experiences on the Contexts and Pathways to African-Caribbean Women Ageing Without Children

Freeman, Shona Sarah (2019) African-Caribbean Women Ageing Without Children: Examining the Impact of Life Course Experiences on the Contexts and Pathways to African-Caribbean Women Ageing Without Children. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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African-Caribbean Women Ageing Without Children
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Abstract

Despite the growing research and literature examining the pathways and context to ageing without children, there are few studies that reflect the diversity of ageing childless adults. None of the available studies specifically includes Black and Ethnic Minority groups in the sample nor do they explore the cultural, social and religious contexts in which ageing without children takes place. Furthermore, none of the studies considers a range of different key life events and factors throughout the life course that shape an individual’s experiences and pathways of living without children in older age. Studies remain largely homogenous, focusing their attention on the experiences of adults from White British and European backgrounds.

To date, there are no available studies that examine the experiences of African-Caribbean women ageing without children. Ageing African-Caribbean women living in Britain have their own unique experiences, culture and identity, thus, their lived experiences of ageing without children are likely to differ from White British and European women (Etienne, 2014; Reynolds, 2005). This study examines the impact of life course experiences on the context and pathways to African-Caribbean women ageing without children. My study engaged ten African-Caribbean women (both those who migrated and those who were born in England) who had varied experiences and pathways to ageing without children. The study was underpinned by Black Feminist Standpoint Theory and the participants were interviewed using in-depth semi-structured interviews with a life course focus. Thematic analysis led to the development of several key themes that were identified as shaping and contributing to the women’s context and pathways to ageing without children; for example, experiences of loss throughout the life course, including migration, parental death in childhood, infertility, divorce and miscarriage. In line with a life course perspective, this study found that participants experienced multiple trajectories to childlessness and shifting identities throughout their life course. The diverse narrative accounts identified the many ways childlessness can occur across the life course and how losses can be managed and revisited in later life.

While such findings add to the existing research within this research area, they also depart from it. Some of these key themes and findings suggest that the women’s experiences throughout their life course were specific to their African-Caribbean heritage and their subsequent status as older women who were ageing without children. Culture and religion played a key factor in shaping the women’s earlier socialisation and views on family life, children and marriage. However, some of the women’s accounts provided an insight into continuity and change in beliefs and practices from early socialisation. Furthermore, from the findings, it was evident that racist and sexist ideologies shared similar features, such as treating ageing African-Caribbean women as objects who lacked human worth and dignity (Collins, 2000). This was evident in the women’s treatment within varied social systems such as health care and education establishments. The women’s accounts reflected experiences of resistance and resilience in light of some of their experiences. However, resistance and resilience changed depending on the circumstances the particular women were in.

The study provided an understanding and insight into areas that we have very limited knowledge of and has bridged the gap between disparate pieces of research identified in the literature review. Together they offer a clearer and more robust understanding of African-Caribbean women ageing without children, and also provide a contemporary qualitative Black Feminist British perspective.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
ID Code:44794
Deposited On:05 May 2021 10:36

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