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    How do women experience midlife divorce? A Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (LIPA)

    Godson, Suzanne Mary (2023) How do women experience midlife divorce? A Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (LIPA). PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The prevalence of divorce has been embedded into population surveys since the 1960s and the resulting large-scale longitudinal datasets have facilitated a glut of quantitative research. In contrast, the qualitative corpus on divorce is extremely limited and is mostly comprised of cross-sectional analyses of retrospective data. Because divorce is a both an extremely common and an extremely stressful life event, it is ideally suited to qualitative research with an idiographic focus. In recent years several studies of divorce have used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to understand how people make sense of divorce, but this is the first Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (LIPA) study to track the experience, in real time, as it is happening. This thesis is comprised of two studies. Study 1 uses IPA to explore how three married women, aged between 50 and 56, make sense of marital difficulties once their youngest child has left home. Study 2 uses LIPA to understand how eight women, aged 50-65, all of whom have adult children, experience midlife divorce. Interviews at three time points capture the changes in their psychological states as they move through the legal process. The first interviews occur shortly after the women receive their Decree Nisi. The second interviews occur just after they receive their Decree Absolute and the final interviews take place six months after the women’s divorces have been finalised. Through the study the women move from a state of anxiety to one of relief, and from a state of self-doubt to one of self-esteem. Pre-divorce, repartnering is an aspiration that they fear their age will deny them. Post-divorce, repartnering feels available, but is no longer desirable. At the beginning of the study all eight women have strong and stable relationships with their adult children. By the end of the study, there has been a pronounced deterioration in the relationship between six of the women and their adult children. In three cases the relationship has broken down completely. LIPA is still considered to be in its infancy (Farr & Nizza, 2019), but this study demonstrates its unique importance as a research method which has the power to dynamically capture dramatic changes in emotional register, altered aspirations and shifts in allegiances, as people move through major life transitions.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 16:33
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:11


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