Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education


This study explores the interconnections between leisure and postgraduate research in the lives of six women. The author and the text draw the reader into interactions to create meanings as the women tell their stories. The value of this thesis derives from its time perspective — the simultaneous view of the women's everyday lives 'across time' (across each woman's lifetime) and 'in time' (during her time as a postgraduate researcher).

This research develops and documents a process I term storying stories as an alternative way to approach and re-present interview transcripts. In this three-stage process interview transcripts were viewed through multiple lenses — active listening, narrative processes, language, context and moments — to highlight both the individuality and the complexity of a life. The views highlighted by these lenses were then used to write interpretive stories. Finally the interpretive stories were brought together to form a personal experience narrative.

These narratives portray how each woman resolved competing demands on her identity to reflexively construct a sense of self over time. Each woman's process of storying leisure revealed a more detailed picture of leisure as 'My Time' — time just for me — than has been revealed in the literature to date. The narratives highlighted the storylines (cultural fictions) each woman drew on to construct her leisure around the tension between 'time for me' and 'time for others'. Some women identified and challenged the existing storylines to make time and create spaces for leisure in their busy postgraduate lives.

The innovative process of storying stories revealed that postgraduate study itself could be experienced as leisure, or at least tantalisingly leisure-like. Also revealed were the structures and strategies each woman drew upon to balance her life in this context. Some women's stories challenged the pattern of narrative closure suggested by the storylines most often available to women postgraduate researchers. This thesis provides the personal and collective knowledge of the postgraduate experience that is missing from both the texts currently available to postgraduates as well as from universities' postgraduate support programs.

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