Shonagh Joice is a PhD student at Queens University Belfast, under the supervision of Sean O’Connell and Diane Urquhart. Shonagh completed both her BA and MSc at The University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) and was an active member of the Scottish Oral History Centre. She was recipient of the Neil Rafeek Prize for Oral History in 2019; awarded for innovative use and distinctive contribution to the discipline of oral history. Shonagh’s research interests include gender, family, and mental health history. In addition, she has a special interest in memory studies; namely, collective and intergenerational memory, and the phenomenon of historical myth. Shonagh aims to utilize these theoretical approaches to her work to create a multifaceted and intimate thesis. 

Project statement:

Gender Identities and Family Dynamics in Post-Industrial Communities: A Comparative Study of Northern Ireland and West-Central Scotland 

This thesis will present a comparative analysis of the gendered and lived experiences of women in Northern Ireland and West-Central Scotland during the period of deindustrialization. It will explore the familial experiences of unemployment, changing family structures and gendered roles. The research will explore these issues utilising oral history theory to explore instances of intergenerational gendered and occupational identity. It will place the lived experience alongside the publicly perceived to explore the influences of collective memory and historical myth upon the complex and intimate realities of personal-identity and gender beliefs. The research seeks to understand the long-lasting implications of deindustrialization and consequently how identities in a post-industrial community changed through generations. 

 The differing experiences of deindustrialization through the managed decline of shipbuilding in Belfast, and the unregulated decline in Glasgow present opportunities to explore various  experiences. By placing these lived experiences in a comparative format, the research will identify trends or disparities that occurred amongst families. Ultimately, questioning; how did women cope with familial experiences of unemployment, instability, and instances of poor mental health in the wake of industrial decline?