Gender and Behaviour

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Redressing marginalisation among teenage mothers through university community engagement approach

Tshimangadzo Selina Mudau


This paper aims to report the results of the strategy employed to deconstruct social marginalisation practices through a university community engagement approach. The study used participatory action research anchored in bricolage. Study participants included teenage mothers, their parents, community leaders, friends, neighbours and the research committee. Data was generated through community meetings, teenage mothers’ meetings, a general integrative meeting with parents and teenage mothers, focus group and individual reflective sessions, personal diaries and field notes. Data were analysed through critical discourse analysis. This method provided an opportunity to deconstruct personal, social hegemonic practices that perpetuated marginalisation, oppression and the isolation of teenage mothers. Findings revealed that personal and community marginalisation lead to personal isolation from family and community interactions, leading to hostility and unfulfilled expectations among co-researchers. Teenage mothers were labelled as weak, irresponsible, and useless at home and in the community. Employing appreciative inquiry lead to the recognition of personal weakness and potential abilities among teenage mothers and other co-researchers. Conclusively, collaborative critical dialogue promotes reconciliation, the redressing of social labels and judgements, and the promotion of mutual respect and acceptance.

Keywords: action research, bricolage, critical discourse analysis, reflections, stigma

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