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"I know I'm a good mum – no one can tell me different." Young mothers negotiating a stigmatised identity through time

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This article draws on qualitative longitudinal data obtained over a five-year period with young mothers. What makes the approach described in this article unique is how it views teenage pregnancy and motherhood as fluid and dynamic, moving away from the static snapshots that often depict young mothers as struggling (or 'failing') at one moment in time, to a more nuanced account that reflects their journeys into motherhood and the changes that occur through time. Three main themes are explored. First, emphasis is placed on the acute awareness of stigmatisation and how the women in the study consequently felt pressure to 'prove' that they were different or set apart from the stereotypical teenage mother. Second, factors that either neutralise or exacerbate the experience of stigma are explored. Finally, it is argued that greater attention should be paid to the process of stigmatisation through the notion of a 'maternal career'. This framework allows for an appreciation of both the complexity of how lives unfold and of the many factors that can influence its direction.
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Keywords: QUALITATIVE LONGITUDINAL METHODS; STIGMA; TEENAGE PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD; YOUNG MOTHERS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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