‘It’s like, we’re in Blackpool innit’ : A discourse analysis of identities of young women living in a deprived seaside town in North West England

Haughton, Melanie and Walton, Chris and Lewis, Charlie (2022) ‘It’s like, we’re in Blackpool innit’ : A discourse analysis of identities of young women living in a deprived seaside town in North West England. PhD thesis, Psychology.

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Blackpool is a town which has been identified has having some of the most deprived wards in England, but also has areas of relative affluence which are often not reported. According to Social Representation Theory, social representations provide social knowledge that can influence the identities of individuals. Identity Process Theory offers a theoretical framework that allows for the exploration of identity and how threats are managed, including threats emerging from social representations. To establish the nature of social representations available to young women in Blackpool, a media analysis was conducted of a 5 ½ year period of a range of newspapers. Critical Discourse Analysis was used to examine two main themes. The analysis of newspaper articles indicated that many of the social representations of Blackpool were hegemonic, in that they justified the deprivation of people in Blackpool, depicted them as responsible for their own misfortunes. Based on Critical Discourse Analysis, it was argued that social representations could lead to identity threats that young women would need to manage. Eighteen young women aged 14- 16 years old from two schools in the Blackpool area were interviewed, using posters they had created as prompts. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis was used to analyse interviews, which indicated that young women engaged in discourses that reflected social representations available to them to make sense of their lived experiences of Blackpool. They engaged in strategies to distance themselves from negative social representations. In terms of group membership in Blackpool they drew upon concepts of meritocracy, morality, and authenticity as salient characteristics. Belongingness and distinctiveness were identified as identity enhancement strategies. The research showed the importance of discursive methodology for understanding identity. Future research would include comparative groups to establish the importance of social representations on identity and the strategies used to manage them.

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Thesis (PhD)
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30 May 2022 10:10
Last Modified:
13 Apr 2024 23:29