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Migration, frequent moving, and committed dwelling: An exploration of the relationship between home and self production in the context of postmodernity

Olivieri, Helen (2002) Migration, frequent moving, and committed dwelling: An exploration of the relationship between home and self production in the context of postmodernity. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis is an exploration of the nature of home, and of the relationship between homes and selves in Western, post-industrial social contexts. It draws widely on previous theoretical research around the notions of home and the postmodern self, and in doing so posits that home and home production is an essential feature of self production. To further investigate this idea and to explore in more detail some of the ways in which the relationships between homes and selves emerge, fifteen people were interviewed. The interviews centred on how the participants went about producing homes for themselves, and what home meant to them at various times in relation to the experiences of significant life changes - specifically, the changes entailed by migration, frequent house moving, and shifting employment opportunities.

The findings are significant for the further development of sociological understandings of home and the postmodern self. Home, like the postmodern self, can be multiple, multi-layered in terms of meaning, and dynamic in relation to the changing proclivities of selves. The thesis also suggests that home production and self production are interdependent processes, with homes and selves closely intertwined. Home emerges as a support for the self, and a basis from which selves are produced. Home is crucial to the experience of continuity of self. At the same time, homes can only be produced by selves who have habitual, meaningful associations with those places over time. Much of this interdependency of homes and selves emerges from the spatiality of selves, and the ways in which homes are developed by selves to accommodate that spatiality.

A detailed consideration of the interview accounts suggests that home enables a self to experience continuity in adapting to change. Changes in life circumstances which require adaptive changes of self drive people to adopt strategies of home production that allow them to make those changes and maintain a sense of continuity. The strategies of home production described in the interviews varied in relation to the types of changes experienced as well as what participants wanted to achieve for themselves during and after these changes.

It is argued that there is a need for researchers to develop a more comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of home where this concept forms part of their research concerns. Social researchers also need to recognise the extent to which the relationship between self and home is crucial to a proper understanding of what a postmodern self is in the context of everyday life. Home emerges from this study as a kind of primary site, providing the ‘conditions of possibility’ for the production of postmodern selves.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Harris, Patricia
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