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What Does it Mean to be Childless? Exploring Meaning Structures of Parents and Childless Individuals

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Abstract:

One of the main tenants of structural symbolic interactionism is the shared meanings and expectations individuals hold for specific roles in society. Identity theory posits that these shared meanings can be internalized by an individual as an identity. Previous research has explored these meanings and identities mainly with respect to positively evaluated, normative identities. A growing number of individuals, however, claim identities that are outside of the everyday expectations of American society. These individuals, as previous research indicates, face negative evaluation, and can be stigmatized for claiming these negative roles. This research will explore the meaning structures associated with three identities, parenting, childless, and temporarily childless. The main focus will be to evaluate the degree of shared meanings associated with both normative and counter-normative identities. Both individuals who claim normative and counter-normative identities were asked to evaluate how others in general view their group, as well as the opposite group. Findings show a high level of shared meaning regardless of an individual’s own identity. As expected, respondents appear to be in agreement that society in general views parents more positively than the childless. Childless individuals, however, do not appear to internalize these negative evaluations as components of their self-view.
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Long, Brooke. and Yarrison, Fritz. "What Does it Mean to be Childless? Exploring Meaning Structures of Parents and Childless Individuals" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, WA, Aug 17, 2016 <Not Available>. 2017-11-01 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1121260_index.html>

APA Citation:

Long, B. L. and Yarrison, F. W. , 2016-08-17 "What Does it Mean to be Childless? Exploring Meaning Structures of Parents and Childless Individuals" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, WA Online <PDF>. 2017-11-01 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1121260_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: One of the main tenants of structural symbolic interactionism is the shared meanings and expectations individuals hold for specific roles in society. Identity theory posits that these shared meanings can be internalized by an individual as an identity. Previous research has explored these meanings and identities mainly with respect to positively evaluated, normative identities. A growing number of individuals, however, claim identities that are outside of the everyday expectations of American society. These individuals, as previous research indicates, face negative evaluation, and can be stigmatized for claiming these negative roles. This research will explore the meaning structures associated with three identities, parenting, childless, and temporarily childless. The main focus will be to evaluate the degree of shared meanings associated with both normative and counter-normative identities. Both individuals who claim normative and counter-normative identities were asked to evaluate how others in general view their group, as well as the opposite group. Findings show a high level of shared meaning regardless of an individual’s own identity. As expected, respondents appear to be in agreement that society in general views parents more positively than the childless. Childless individuals, however, do not appear to internalize these negative evaluations as components of their self-view.


 
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