A Study of Narrative Identity in the Life Stories of Lesbians Aged 60-70 Years Old

Prof Doc Thesis

Sale, Hannah 2015. A Study of Narrative Identity in the Life Stories of Lesbians Aged 60-70 Years Old. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4433
AuthorsSale, Hannah
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study examines the narrative identity construction of six self-identified lesbians born between 1945 and1950. This generation of women who are now in their sixties and seventies have lived through immense social change including the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the gay rights movement, civil partnership and gay marriage. They are the first generation to have the opportunity to live openly as lesbians. This study is interested in the impact of such significant social change on their identity construction. The study used semi-structured in-depth interviews to ask six participants how they had experienced living with a lesbian identity. All participants were white and UK born. All were educated to at least degree level and all were in or retired from professional employment. Data was analysed using narrative method grounded in a social constructionist epistemology.
Four themes emerged:
1) Participants reported feeling marginalised as children, and unable or unwilling to fulfil the life trajectory expected of them;
2) Finding a community, usually a feminist or lesbian group enabled the development of a positive lesbian identity;
3) Lesbian identity was constructed as more than a sexual identity, rather as a political identity and a way of life;
4) Participants constructed an overall life-narrative of redemption, a narrative which progressed from struggle to satisfaction.
The study examines the particular discourses used in identity construction. It is argued that participants are influenced by inversion model, feminist, queer and redemptive narrative discourses. The benefits of using a social constructionist approach for LGBT research are discussed in order to offer a critique of psychology’s role in constructing subjects as well as to gain a fuller picture of participants’ social and political worlds. The implications of this study’s findings for counselling psychology are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.4433
Publication dates
PrintJun 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Sep 2015
Publisher's version
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