Reflections on Feminist Qualitative Methodology: Midlife Women's Experience of Ageing

Dr. Eva Stamou
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The paper addresses the feminist approach to interviewing techniques and the researcher's-participants' relationship by analysing the process of in-depth interviewing with 15 women aged from 35 to 55 who live in Britain. The project explored how participants experience ageing as a psychosomatic process and how their sense of self might change at the passage of time. The standard sample discussed in the literature about British society is that of the White, British, Middle-class, Heterosexual woman. The sample used in this research is far more divergent, (7 out of 15 are women of different ethnicity), with a view to provide a more accurate account of women’s experience in contemporary British society.

The main themes explored include the following: (i) whether the issue of ageing is important for midlife women; (ii) midlife women’s body image, namely how women feel and think of their bodies, and whether they use different methods in order to delay or cover the signs of ageing; (iii) how participants perceive the role of mass media and the fashion industry in shaping or influencing women’s view of middle age; (iv) the participants’ own understanding of middle age and whether it is associated with specific mental, psychological or physical characteristics or with a particular life style; (v) the nature of female sexuality during midlife, and the participants’ experiences and conceptions of menopause; (vi) the issue of the ‘double standard’ of ageing and the issue of ageism in British society. The paper analyses specific ways in which participants can act as co-researchers, and how the role of counselling psychologist can enhance as well as hinder certain aspects of the in-depth interviewing process.

Keywords: Ageing, Middle-age, Identity, Feminism, Qualitative Methodology, Diversity
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and the Behavioural Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Reflections on Feminist Qualitative Methodology

Dr. Eva Stamou

PhD Canditate, Department of Behavioral Sciences
School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield

Huddersfield, UK

Ref: I06P0358