Housing, home and women's identity.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
There are two central arguments around which this thesis is constructed. The first is that we cannot understand everyday life without exploring the ways in which space and social interaction are mutually constituted. This argument is explored in relation to women's experiences of the house and home. Women's identity formation, I argue, is tied up with the form of the built environment and cultural concepts of 'home.' Part one explores the theoretical and methodological context of this project and the reasons for using different approaches. These range from an interweaving of N.Z fiction and housing policy over time, socio-semiotic analysis of house and home advertising, to qualitative research involving individual and focus group interviews, all of which are underpinned by a feminist perspective. The two historically based chapters on fiction and policy, and advertising, demonstrate how the category 'woman' and women have been aligned with the house and home within the context of heterosexual relations. This relationship, I argue, is subject to contestation and change as women challenge roles associated with constructions of femininity and a spatially gendered division of labour. Part two draws on the interview material with chapters organised around the narratives emerging from individual and focus group material, Woman/Women Alone, The Good-Enough-Mother and Transitions. Within the context of this material I explore Iris Marion Young's concept of home as a critical value and the relevance of emotion theory. In conclusion, I assess the extent to which the diversity of theory, methodology and interview material address the central claims which underpin this project.