Reproducing stigma: Narratives of single women's pregnancy and motherhood in Ireland 1990-2010

Bradley, Ciara
This is a study of single women¿s reproduction in Ireland, the investigation of a contemporary phenomenon in its real life context. The study is interested in the temporal nature of experience over an extended time period and in the narrative construction of this experience. I used the Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) to elicit self-biographising narratives from twelve research participants. Three of these were analysed in depth using clear auditable procedures focussing on both the historical context of the life and the told story to produce an analysis of the situated telling of a whole story by an equally situated subjectivity. The culmination of this process is to produce narratives of 'lived experience' in a cultural-historical context. This analysis reveals that single women¿s experience of pregnancy and motherhood is located in the social milieu they inhabit both temporally and structurally. The stigma of single motherhood in Ireland has shifted over the past three decades. The result of this is that in 2010, stigma exists in some socio-locations but not in others. Women negotiate the stigma they face in the personal, cultural and social levels of their lives drawing on material and symbolic resources where they can. Social class, ethnicity and time mediate the experience but can also intersect to create a more stigmatized identity. Stigma is the key social mechanism that allows inequality to be created and perpetuated for this group of women. BNIM¿s attention to individual experiences and its consideration of the social context gives it considerable potential as a research method for investigating other aspects of social life and the impact of social policy in Ireland.
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland