Reconstructing identities: The utility of adolescent pregnancy. The stories of poor African-American adolescent pregnant women in western city

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Robert C. Bogdan


Identities, Poor, Pregnancy, Adolescent pregnancy, African-American

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Social Psychology | Sociology


Despite the national concern about teenage pregnancy and the typification of teenage pregnancy as an African American problem, there is little data exploring the social context in which adolescent pregnancy occurs. This is not an analysis of adolescent sexuality as a matter of intense symbolic import, but an explication of how adolescent African American women interpret getting pregnant as an instrument to transform class and caste boundaries, to change the paradigm, and to move themselves and their children beyond the space of blackness or otherness.

Through extensive presentations their experiences with their choices, their pregnancies and deliveries, their relationships to others and their own reflexive self meanings are primary to this study. Evident in their narratives is the way in which they have negotiated their roles as daughters, mothers, girlfriends and productive citizens by attempting through reproduction to reconstitute their caste and class identities.

Through the case studies of four poor African American pregnant adolescents this dissertation contributes to the literature that addresses the definitional tensions by specifying the relationship between their meanings, those experiences and ideas shared by them that provide a unique angle of vision on self, their pregnancies, and theories that interpret their experiences. This study provides significant clues about social structure and reveals the means in which these young women have chosen to resist the cultural perception of Black motherhood and particularly the construction of spoiled identity to the social type of dark Black mother.


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