Knowing Mothers: Researching Maternal Identity Change (Studies in the Psychosocial)

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How do women experience the identity changes involved in becoming mothers for the first time? When this is the question of an empirical research project, it poses methodological challenges: how can research bring to light such experience, and how can identity change be documented, conceptualised and written about? Nineteen women's lives populate this book, as they become mothers for the first time, each unique and all having much in common amidst the diversity of East London. Through in depth case examples, Wendy Hollway demonstrates how a different research methodology, underpinned by a psychoanalytically informed epistemology, can transform our understanding of the early foundations of maternal identity.

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About the Author:

Wendy Hollway is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at The Open University, UK. She has written extensively on empirical psycho-social methods using psychoanalytically informed interviewing and observation, as well as on mothering, care and subjectivity. The project on which this book is based was funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council, part of the Identities and Social Action programme.

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“Hollway delves into the complexity of maternal identity to shed light on a deeply subjective time of human existence gravely overlooked in the masculine research domains of mental and physical health and medicine. ... Hollway offers researchers and helping professionals a place to start in the development of a psychosocial approach to researching the less evident realms of human intra-and intersubjectivity. ... Hollway’s book is remarkable and ground breaking.” (Aparna Mishra, Univeristy of Durham, Centre for Medical Humanities, centreformedicalhumanities.org, January, 2016)

'In Knowing Mothers, Wendy Hollway reflects deeply about the connection between how we live mothering and how we think about it. She invites us to witness her journey of discovery as she develops an innovative, multi-layered research approach that integrates psychoanalytic insights with qualitative empirical methods. In the process, she portrays the women whose lives she explores in ways that are textured, moving, and real.' - Daphne de Marneffe, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life

'Wendy Hollway's is a singular voice in psychosocial studies: lucid, provocative, pedagogic and accessible. Working with a unique data set of psychoanalytically informed observations and interviews documenting the first year of new motherhood, this book provides a series of exemplars showing how theory and method can be put to work in the project of knowing mothers and researching maternal becoming. Essential reading for all those interested in psychoanalytically informed social research methods as well as the growing interdisciplinary field of maternal studies.' - Rachel Thomson, University of Sussex, UK

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