Women's experiential journey toward voluntary childlessness

Shaw, Rachel L. (2011). Women's experiential journey toward voluntary childlessness. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 21 (2), pp. 151-163.

Abstract

Voluntary childlessness is a relatively novel yet growing phenomenon. This idiographic study explored three women's experiential journeys toward voluntary childlessness. Semi-structured interviews were carried out and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Themes identified were: Owning the choice to be childless, social expectations, and models of mothering. Despite defining ‘voluntary childlessness’ as an unequivocal decision, the women's experiential accounts revealed an intrinsic fluidity in their journeys toward childlessness. Factors including beliefs in equality, independence and career aspirations competed with constructs of mothering/motherhood, partnership and choice to create a complex tapestry of contributory factors in these women's childlessness. The findings question the notion of choice and particularly women's ownership of that choice. The journeys toward childlessness these women shared reveal a synthesis of agentic decision-making, personal histories and challenging lifestyle choices bound up within an existential need to be a woman. More research is needed to determine the place of voluntary childlessness within society. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.1072
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Life & Health Sciences
Additional Information: This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Shaw, Rachel L. (2011). Women's experiential journey toward voluntary childlessness. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 21 (2), pp. 151-163, which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/casp.1072/abstract
Uncontrolled Keywords: voluntary childlessness,female identity,family,interpretative phenomenological analysis,Social Psychology,Sociology and Political Science
Full Text Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/casp.1072/abstract
Related URLs: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79951538795&partnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2011-03
Authors: Shaw, Rachel L. ( 0000-0002-0438-7666)

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