Professional Doctoral Study and Motherhood: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Arora, L. (2022). Professional Doctoral Study and Motherhood: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis London South Bank University School of Law and Social Sciences
AuthorsArora, L.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study is a critical discourse analysis of professional doctorate study and motherhood drawn from the interview transcripts of 11 doctoral-student-mothers within a South London university. A lengthy review of contemporary motherhood and of motherhood and doctoral study was undertaken to understand the dominant societal forces legitimising the doctoral-student-mothers’ identity, to attend to the third objective of the study. In doing so, a hegemony of intensive mothering ideology was revealed as the ‘backdrop’ to contemporary mothering. A literature review on
doctoral-student-motherhood revealed recurrent themes centred around a ‘complex identity,’ ‘juggling and struggling,’ ‘belonging’ and ‘emancipation.’ A Foucauldian critical discourse analysis was undertaken from a critical realist perspective, which revealed three dominant discourses being utilised by the doctoralstudent-mothers, these being synergy, activism and belonging and becoming.
Analysis of these discourses revealed that within the discourse of synergy, the doctoral-student-mothers were functioning as servant leaders and were altering the distribution of housework in their families. The discourse of activism showed that the doctoral-student-mothers were using both scholarship and maternal identity to function as activists through their doctoral studies. The discourse of belonging and becoming showed the doctoral-student-mothers were experiencing imposter phenomenon and were using their doctorates for emancipatory purposes, more so than to add knowledge to their professional field. Discussion is interwoven into the analysis of the three dominant discourses. Recommendations for change and future research include a review of academic mentoring for doctoral-student-mothers, an analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on doctoral student motherhood and an analysis of activism as a feature of doctoral-student-motherhood more broadly.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
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Publication dates
Print14 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Mar 2023
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