Using a biographical methodological approach to explore infant feeding choices in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Gallagher, Justine (2015) Using a biographical methodological approach to explore infant feeding choices in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. In: 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association, 25th - 28th August 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.

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Breastfeeding provides significant health benefits to both mother and child. The average rate of breastfeeding in the UK is around 67%. Rates in areas of high social deprivation are lower than this. In the wards of Walker and Byker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, just 47% of women breastfeed their children at birth.

This paper explores how a biographical methodological approach has been used to elicit women’s ‘infant feeding stories’ in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, helping to “make sense of what has been and what is happening in ... lives, cultures, communities and societies” (O’Neill, Roberts and Sparkes, 2015 p.1). These stories are part of a research study which aims to explore socio-cultural factors relating to infant feeding decisions. To date six women have been interviewed.

The use of one ‘generative narrative question’ (Riemann and Schütze, 1987, p.353 cited in Flick, 2009, p.177) has allowed the women to be in control of the interview process; to tell their story without interruption and through the use of their own frame of reference and vocabulary. This approach has allowed the women space to introduce others into their stories. These social actors, friends, family members and health professionals are often included though the use of direct speech (James, Hall and Collins, submitted). It is argued that this method produces ‘a richer version of the events’ (Flick, 2009, p.179) than by using other methods.

To conclude, this paper will map some of the women’s stories. This will demonstrate the complexity surrounding influences present for women during this important decision making process.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: L300 Sociology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Justine Gallagher
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2015 10:04
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 14:37

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