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Women and children first---In that order: Making sense of the athletic pursuits of middle class mothers

Posted on:2013-05-07Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The University of ChicagoCandidate:Hanis-Martin, Jennifer LouiseFull Text:PDF
The objective of this project is to make sense of the athletic pursuits of women whose lives should not allow this to happen: middle class women with children who find themselves under pressure to be wage earners, intensely involved mothers, and informed consumers of healthy and fit lifestyles. In an effort to explore this seemingly impossible combination (both logistically and ideologically), I conducted 34 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with women who had children as a well as regular, serious running and/or triathlon practices.;First, this study explores the primary and personal roles that sports practice plays in the lives of these women. In the sense that it primarily represents a semi-autonomous, personal space away from other realms of responsibility, it is exactly what one would expect a leisure activity to be. Even in the participants' descriptions of their personal athletic experiences, we get many glimpses of how it all connects to the other parts of their lives.;Second, this research acknowledges and investigates the reality that an autonomous serious leisure pursuit is very difficult for a mother of dependent children to achieve and maintain. I examine the infrastructure necessary to pursue and maintain athletic practices, participants' attempts to minimize the impact of their sports practices on their families, and also the ways that they draw on them for support. I look at the strategies employed for accommodating family while harnessing their support at the same time.;Third, I take a close look at how the respondents make sense of their practices in connection with the rest of their lives. In addition to focusing on their sports practice as necessary and positive self care, the vast majority also viewed it as modeling healthy behavior to their children. Finally, I look at instances of failure. In spite of careful planning and cultivation for fitting sports practice into one's life, it does not always work, and these collisions are examined.
Keywords/Search Tags:Women, Sense, Athletic, Children, Sports practice, Lives
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