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Low-Income Women’s Navigation of Childbearing Norms Throughout the Reproductive Life Course

James-Hawkins, Laurie and Sennott, Christie (2015) 'Low-Income Women’s Navigation of Childbearing Norms Throughout the Reproductive Life Course.' Qualitative Health Research, 25 (1). 62 - 75. ISSN 1049-7323

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Shifts in family structure have affected age norms about both teenage childbearing and reproductive sterilization, but we lack research examining how childbearing norms are connected across the reproductive life course. Drawing on interviews from 40 low-income women in Colorado, we explored linkages between early childbearing and the desire for early sterilization. Specifically, we examined two narratives women use to negotiate competing norms throughout the reproductive life course. The low-income women in our study characterized their teenage childbearing experiences negatively and justified them using a “young and dumb” narrative. Women also asserted that reversible contraceptives do not work for them, using a “hyper-fertility” narrative to explain both their early childbearing and their desire for early sterilization. Our results illustrate the influence of mainstream social norms about childbearing timing on low-income women’s lives and provide evidence of how women use narratives to explain and justify their violation of childbearing norms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescents / youth, contraception, parenting, poverty, pregnancy, reproduction
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 10:03
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 10:03

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