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Age and sexual divisions : a study of opportunity and identity in women

Itzin, Catherine (1990) Age and sexual divisions : a study of opportunity and identity in women. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85956) (KAR id:85956)


The aim of this thesis was to explore women's experience of age throughout the lifespan, to examine the connections between age divisions and gender divisions in the construction of opportunity and Identity in the lives of women, and to evaluate the influence of feminism on women's experience of the life cycle. The intention was - within a symbolic interactlonist framework and with reference to role theory, social scripts and soclalisation - to look at whether and, in what ways, identity and opportunity f or women are socially constructed within a system of structural inequality and women's subordination, and to study the changes that might have occurred as a result of a decade of feminism in the lives of women influenced by feminism. Within a general theoretical perspective of life course studies, an ethnographic methodology and grounded theory methods were used to generate concepts and to develop a formal theory of women's age and gender oppression from the theory which emerged, as a result of the research process Itself. Part One deals with the research process. This includes a review of feminism and the literature on age, the life cycle and socialisation. Methodology, research methods and characteristics of the sample are discussed in Chapter Two. Part Two on Internalised Oppression covers double standards in attitudes to age, distinctions between the male and the 'female chronology', the role of representations and childhood socialisation in the social construction of identity, the meaning of life-cycle related depression and the influence of feminism on identity. Part Three on Oppression, analyses the data in relation to age and the sexual division of labour, age and female sexuality and women's sexualised value. Part Four on Liberation looks at strategies devised by women at various life stages as a result of the influence of feminism to resist the oppression and to establish alternatives. Part Five on Formal Theory, presents a materialist analysis of gender oppression, age oppression, Ideology and identity, and the socialisation process. The evidence of this thesis suggests that women's lives are constructed from a combination of age and gender divisions throughout the lifespan, which operate as a form of social control both economically and sexually. It also suggests that, influenced by feminism, women have been able to increase their opportunities and redefine their identity within the female chronology. The research is original in conceptualising gender with generation (the 'female chronology')) oppression with internalised oppression, in demonstrating the function of power In the social construction of opportunity and identity and in identifying feminist influences on the female life cycle.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.85956
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Women's experience of age
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:22 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2022 09:37 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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