How to be ordinary: To what extent do normative narratives of the family influence the friendship-making practices of female same-sex parents?
As Finch and Mason (1999) and Morgan (1996) assert, studies of intimate family life can reveal wider patterns of social change. In their 2002 monograph on LGBT families, Weeks et al investigated how LGBT individuals constructed families within the context of significant changes in the cultural and political landscape of everyday life. They discuss the non-heterosexual family as pioneers of "experiments in living" (2002, p.vii), who have impacted on traditional notions of family, and pushed the
... oundaries of acceptable formulations of kinship and intimacy. At a similar time, Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (2002) and Giddens (1991) were suggesting that there has been a shift away from normative family models rooted in a relationship to economic capital and reproduction. This shift away from traditional family forms has often been used as evidence to suggest that structural understandings of normative behaviour are being unravelled and that a more progressive and liberal understanding of family is emerging (Silva and Smart, 1999).In this research, I use the setting of friendship-making post-transition to parenting to challenge the ideas above. By examining how friendly connections to others were made, it was possible to investigate when female same-sex parents were allowed to feel ordinary and included in parenting spaces.I conducted this research taking a qualitative approach, interviewing parents in 12 households. This led to 23 individual semi-structured interviews, and 10 follow-up couple interviews. I asked participants to draw metaphorical maps of their social worlds, and used these maps as stimulus during the interview process.This research extends the literature on how LGBTQ+ people experience the social spaces and social support around parenting (Taylor 2009b; Woodford et al. 2010; Ryan-Flood 2005; Hicks and McDermott 1999; Speziale and Gopalakrishna 2004; Gabb 2008; Gartrell et al. 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2005). In this thesis I challenge the idea of a loosening of normative models of family, by providing evidence o [...]