Collective relationalism and collective individualism: Pacific mothers’ and fathers’ agency and identity following separation

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dc.contributor.advisor Elizabeth, V en
dc.contributor.advisor Bell, A en Keil, Moeata en 2020-04-23T20:49:55Z en 2019 en
dc.identifier.uri en
dc.description.abstract Parenting apart has become a common occurrence in Aotearoa New Zealand and elsewhere across the West. Much of the sociological literature on experiences of post-separation parenting, parenthood and familial life draws on normative white Western and nuclearised understandings of family structure, and the organisation of gender relations as well as the nature and scope of parental obligations and responsibilities within that structure. There has been an absence of any analysis of how those from ethnic minority communities, many of whom adhere to a collectivist family structure and hold communally-based understandings about provisions of care, navigate and negotiate parenthood and familial life in the context of separation. In this doctoral thesis, I address this gap in the literature. Drawing on one-on-one, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with separated heterosexual Pacific parents, specifically ten mothers and five fathers, living in Aotearoa New Zealand, I explore how gender and ethnicity intersect to shape experiences of post-separation parenting, parenthood and familial life. In particular, I examine the interplay between theories of individualisation and relationality in terms of how Pacific mothers and fathers interpret, negotiate and enact agency and identity following separation. In pursuing this inquiry, I examine how Pacific collectivist understandings of family, in conjunction with Pacific/gendered norms, values and practices associated with doing family in Pacific cultures, shape, in similar and divergent ways, Pacific mothers’ and fathers’ agency and identity with respect to (re)negotiating care arrangements, (re)organising care practices and (re)enacting familial connections following separation. In my analysis, I found that Pacific mothers’ and fathers’ agency and identity were relationally understood, constructed and enacted. However, there were gendered differences underscoring how, when and to whom they were relational. Mothers enacted what I term ‘collective relationalism’. This involved exercising agency and identity with a collectivist, child-centred and often self-sacrificing relationalism. Conversely, fathers’ agency and identity were characterised by what I call ‘collective individualism’, and entailed relating to others in a collectivist, child-related but ultimately self-interested way. I conclude this thesis by arguing that Pacific/gendered family norms, values and practices produced differing gendered cultural accountabilities that required mothers to enact collective relationalism and constrained their ability to act in a more individualistic way, while enabling, emboldening and rewarding fathers’ enactment of collective individualism. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri en
dc.title Collective relationalism and collective individualism: Pacific mothers’ and fathers’ agency and identity following separation en
dc.type Thesis en Sociology en The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights en
pubs.elements-id 799094 en Arts en Social Sciences en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2020-04-24 en

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