Examining the changing representations of family relations: Insights from leisure photographs

Author: Saadat Abadi Nasab, Parisa

Date: 2021

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/12172


Taking photographs is an inseparable part of life for many families. Families were (and still are) interested in taking photos of their growing children, special rituals and ceremonies, and family gatherings. As tangible records of family life and relationships, family leisure photographs illustrate broader societal changes and document multiple aspects of members’ lives. Therefore, the aim of this research is to explore the changing representations of family life and relationships through leisure photographs in light of societal changes over time. The aim of this thesis necessitated a longitudinal analysis. Therefore, archival photographs were chosen as the data source for the study. In New Zealand, the University of Otago Hocken Collections in Dunedin has a rich archive of family photograph albums that are available for viewing by researchers and members of the public. These albums only cover the period 1896 to 1955, so advertising and snowball sampling was used to gain access to material from 1955 to 2018. Family photograph albums were collected in both hard and digital forms. A total of 58 hard copy photograph albums and 125 digital photograph albums (all private family albums) spanning the period 1896 to 2018 were collected and ultimately 4700 family leisure photographs were analysed using visual thematic analysis. The findings are presented in the form of three separate papers. All papers are self-contained and focus on the same research context (New Zealand), using the same analytical technique (visual thematic analysis) to analyse the same dataset. While these three papers utilise the same set of data, they draw from discrete fields of literature to answer different questions. In examining the changing representations of fatherhood, the first paper shows that family leisure photographs reflect a shift away from father as an invisible breadwinner in the early twentieth century, to participating in leisure consumption with the family in the post-war years, to visible and involved during the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s, to the position of playmate-teacher in more recent decades. It provides evidence that fathers are using leisure as a context to engage more with their children and fulfil the social expectation of being a good dad. In exploring the changing position of children in family leisure, the second paper shows that the photographs provide evidence of a shift away from children as observers and followers of family leisure in the early twentieth century, to being more under control in the post-war years, to being recognised as important social agents through the 1970s, to their current position as active decision makers in family leisure. Finally, in an investigation into gender roles in family leisure food provisioning, the third paper finds that despite social changes contributing to the empowerment of women, they still carry the main responsibility for the facilitation of food-related chores in the leisure experience. While men take the ‘frontstage glory’ of food preparation during family leisure occasions, women are shown either in the kitchen alone or looking after small children, doing the ‘backstage work’. Studying the changing nature of family life through time provides valuable insights regarding family relationships and how they have changed in relation to evolving social norms and patterns. However, it must be remembered that social values linked to the meanings ascribed to families are place specific and, as a result, the findings highlighted in this thesis cannot simply be assumed to be the same across the world. Looking forward then, it is important that the research on which this thesis is based is expanded into different cultural settings. In addition, this study provides an opportunity to consider the value of visual archival material and how this data can inform leisure studies.

Subjects: New Zealand, Family, Leisure, Family leisure, Photographs, Thematic analysis

Citation: ["Saadat Abadi Nasab, P. (2021). Examining the changing representations of family relations: Insights from leisure photographs (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/12172"]

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