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Being an 'older parent': Chrononormativity and practices of stage of life categorisation

Ylanne, Virpi and Nikander, Pirjo 2019. Being an 'older parent': Chrononormativity and practices of stage of life categorisation. Text and Talk 39 (4) , pp. 465-487. 10.1515/text-2019-2036

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This article investigates the discursive practices of older first-time parents in interview interaction. Our focus is on the ways in which cultural notions surrounding the timing of parenthood are mobilised, and how speakers orient to potential discrepancies between the category ‘parent’ and their own stage of life (SOL) or age category. The data corpus comprises qualitative interviews with 15 heterosexual couples and individuals in the UK who became parents between the ages of 35–57 years. Examining reproductive biographical talk at midlife at a time when the average age of first time parents is rising and delayed parenting is increasing across Western countries provides a testing ground for the analysis of norms concerning the ‘right time’ of lifetime transitions, and age-appropriateness more generally. Inspired by Elizabeth Freeman’s notion of ‘chrononormativity’, our analysis demonstrates that ‘older parents’ engage in considerable discursive work to bridge temporal aspects of their parenthood. Moreover, we show how the notion of chrononormativity can be theoretically and empirically elaborated through the adoption of membership categorisation and discourse analysis. In explicating how taken-for-granted, temporal notions of lifespan events are mobilised, our findings contribute to research on age-in-interaction, social identity and categorisation, and on the methodology for analysing the discursive age-order and chrononormativity more broadly.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: De Gruyter
ISSN: 1860-7330
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 2 January 2019
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 09:20

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