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Understanding the Lives and Labours of Lone-Mother Students

Nawaz, S (2016) Understanding the Lives and Labours of Lone-Mother Students. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

This study has explored the experiences of lone mothers and their labours as lone- mother students in Higher Education and en route to accessing Higher Education. The main aim of the study was to investigate barriers and constraints in provision of support for lone mothers wishing to study in Higher Education. The importance of education for lone parents has been well documented (Fryer, 1997; Scottish Office,1998; Powney et al., 2000), and there has been a plethora of research undertaken on Higher Education. However, the connection between the lone mother and education has not received much attention; little is known about the support that is offered to lone mothers whilst accessing Higher Education. Research by the National Union of Students (NUS) (2009) has shown that in many ways the responsibilities of mothering and mothers have not been considered by educational institutions as many courses operate in a climate of assumption that most students are free from family obligations of providing care. Due to lack of empirical research undertaken in this area, this study adopted a qualitative ethnographic approach to investigate the lives of lone-mother students. Furthermore, the study was conducted by an international student from Pakistan who is a lone mother herself and whose experiences also form a part of this research. An ethnographic approach was adopted and developed, to enable a holistic understanding of the lone mothers’ experience in Higher Education and specifically in relation to their cultural background. Hence, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were opted for to collect data.The research revealed in-depth knowledge about the relationships that the lone mothers share with their children, extended family, friends and with studies. The data suggested the need for socio - economic support for lone mothers in Higher Education. The qualitative inquiry method used in this study allowed for an examination of the phenomenon of ‘lone motherhood’. The depth, range and longitudinal nature of the data allowed to see contradictions or contrasts in the data (e.g. extrinsic/intrinsic motivations), as well as changes and developments over time (anxiety/self-esteem). The iterative approach also enabled emerging theories and concepts to develop and to be tested over time (e.g. ‘modelling’, ‘utopian’ narratives). Thus, the ethnographic approach enriched the possibilities of ‘grounded’ theorising, and also improved the possibilities of extending previous studies. Thus it indicates that lone-mother students’experiences of education are complex and therefore it is argued that the study of lone- mother students should be extended to conduct further research into different aspects of lone mother students in Higher Education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lone-Mother students, Higher Education, Socio-Economic Support, Ethnography, Reciprocal Reflexivity, Qualitative Research.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 13:56
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2017 11:18
Supervisors: Meadows, Mark and Hennesey, Claire
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4533

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