Running the tightrope
: negotiating femininities in the night time economy in Newcastle

  • Emily Margaret Louise Nicholls

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This project explores young women’s understandings of what it means to be (in)appropriately feminine, the ways in which the boundaries of femininities are negotiated through women’s embodied practices in the Night Time Economy and the types of behaviours and identities that are enabled or constrained as a result.
    Within the academic literature, appropriate femininity has traditionally been associated with passivity, respectability and control. Yet understandings of the meanings and scope of femininities and the implications for the lived experiences of women are more contested in contemporary research, where it is useful to imagine women as negotiating a plurality of ‘femininities’ whose importance shifts across contexts. Within a supposed ‘post-feminist’ society, some women may arguably be able to claim new feminine identities drawing on elements of empowerment, independence and agency. However, it is important to consider how far traditional understandings of femininities may continue to impact on young women’s experiences and the extent to which women even consider being ‘feminine’ to be important.
    This research contributes to an emerging field of literature exploring the ways in which women manage some of the tensions and contradictions inherent in understandings of appropriate femininities in contemporary spaces. Adding to recent work on the ways in which embodied experience shapes and constructs identities in the Night Time Economy, this research uses semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 26 young women aged 18-25 to demonstrate some of the ways in which young women define and manage the boundaries of femininities - both on a ‘girls’ nights out’ with female friends and when engaging with the Night Time Economy more widely - in the post-industrial city of Newcastle, UK. The research also examines the ways in which class, sexuality, age and ‘Geordie’ identities are implicated in such processes, impacting upon the extent to which different women can engage in traditionally non-feminine behaviour without damaging their claims to respectable feminine identities.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Newcastle University
    SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council, UK

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