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Study on TRansition and Exclusion in Society of Single-Mums

Project description

A judicial look at lone motherhood

Single parent families – the vast majority headed by women – are becoming increasingly common in the European Union. They also face greater risks of poverty. As such, single parents need resources, employment and social support. The EU-funded STRESS-Mums project focuses on the judicial transition from double parenthood to lone motherhood and what this means for related issues such as child custody. Undertaking a method of sociological research in institutional ethnography, project researchers will collect interviews in Belgium, Italy and Spain to review gender citizenship related strategies and problems for deeper insight into single-parenting issues.


Lone motherhood is considered as an increasing social problem, not only because its increase but also since it leads to diverse and separated women having only a partial citizenship. There is little knowledge on the social relations and practices that contribute – or do not contribute – to protecting and socially including lone mothers, beginning from the crucial transition to lone parenthood: the judicial evaluation. Focusing on the transition from double parenthood to lone motherhood and, in particular, on the period of judicial evaluation for child custody and judicial decisions for children/family allowances and divorce/separation, this project aims to investigate some specific aspects of the socio-cultural construction of an active gender citizenship by future lone mothers. The interest is in lone mothers’ everyday strategies and social practices to claim inclusion and to negotiate (or not negotiate) the dominant definition of family and parenthood proposed by institutions and professionals, and the less legitimated and multiple situated definitions of lone parents and their families. Introducing the everyday dimension into the study of gender citizenship has the purpose of exploring the lone mothers’ manifest and hidden ‘work’ of legitimation and of possible de-legitimation by institutions. Adopting the sociological approach of Institutional Ethnography (IE) as a method, this study will collect data in three EU countries (Belgium, Italy and Spain) and in the UK, with discursive interviews to lone mothers, professionals and gender issues activists, participant observations, and photo-voice. The action includes an extensive training in life course studies and gender studies, advanced qualitative methods and academic English language. This action will be hosted by the University of Antwerp, with a secondment phase at the University of Edinburgh and visits at the University of Granada and at the IEN-Institutional Ethnography Nordic Network.



Net EU contribution
€ 178 320,00
Prinsstraat 13
2000 Antwerpen

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Antwerpen Arr. Antwerpen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00