Moving through life as a twin : the negotiation of twin identity across the life course

Bacon, Kate, 1978-

May 2005

Thesis or dissertation

© 2005 Kate Bacon. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis examines twins' negotiations of identity across the lifecourse. Split into two main parts - structuring contexts and agency contexts - it draws upon Jenkins' theory of social identity to examine the interplay between structure and agency as identities are constructed and reconstructed across the lifecourse. Importantly, reflecting current theorising within the sociology of childhood, it illustrates how children can and should be considered to be competent social actors. Even though children have their childhoods structured for them by their parents, children take an active role in shaping their own and each other's childhoods. The body, space and talk provide three important resources for helping twins to variously play up and play down their identities as twins.

Discursively constructed as both a concentrated version of siblingship and an intensification of the symbol of the child, twinship is something that children are expected to (in the main) grow out of. Leaving behind the sameness and togetherness they once shared as children are vital signifiers that they are 'growing up' successfully. However this thesis shows that although, on the one hand, children are often keen to show that they are following this normative timetable, on the other hand, it is evident that they do not simply move from being twins to being adults but rather may try to take up and exit their identities as twins in different situations and with varying degrees of success. Identity then is always in process, moving between various possibilities and emerging from social interaction between embodied actors.

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, The University of Hull
Sponsor (Organisation)
Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain)
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