Going with and against the flow : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (by thesis only) in Sociology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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In the act of breastfeeding their children beyond the age of two years women aspire to ideals for the future of the next generation. They seek physical health, emotional wellbeing, freedom of speech and human connection for their children. Yet the road is not clear for the realisation of such aspirations, and women develop various ways of managing the challenges they encounter on their breastfeeding journeys. In the face of social stigma about nursing a child beyond toddlerhood many women do not disclose their breastfeeding to others. Some encounter difficulties in the breastfeeding practice itself and an absence of places in which to talk openly about those challenges. I draw Julia Kristeva’s notion of abjection into Jameson’s dialectic of ideology and utopia in order to develop an interpretative methodology for reading women’s words about sustained breastfeeding. This enables manifestations of stigma and maternal guilt to be situated within an historical and social context. It also facilitates a particular way of understanding how women attempt to shift -to sublimate,in psychoanalytical terms-the tensions they encounter in the context of breastfeeding, into more manageable spaces. Such sublimatory practices include ways of talking and writing that hold the potential for influencing social change.
Breastfeeding, Social aspects, New Zealand, Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Sociology