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    Habitus tug and reflexivity in the gendered life courses of local government lawyers

    Armstrong, Louise (2023) Habitus tug and reflexivity in the gendered life courses of local government lawyers. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

    File will be available on: 30 June 2025.
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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    My thesis explores the role of gender in the lives of local government lawyers (men and women). The extant research on gender within the context of legal practice has focused on lawyers employed in law firms and mainly on the experiences of women. This research reveals that despite the increased numerical feminisation of the profession gendered barriers and practices operate in some law firms to hinder the career progression of women lawyers. Law is practised, however, across many sectors including both the private and public sector. Women dominate numerically the numbers of employees and lawyers within local government. Little is known of the experiences of men and women practising law in this arena. My research adopts a life course approach to explore biographically the operation of gender in shaping lawyers’ trajectories to and positioning in local government legal practice. Deploying a theoretical framework informed by Bourdieu’s (1977) theory of practice and Archer’s (2012) notion of reflexivity, this study provides an enriched explanation of structure and agency. By adopting Ingram’s (2011) concept of habitus tug and adapting, in part, Ingram and Abrahams’ (2016) habitus interruption typologies my study expands theory by revealing the causal mechanisms underlying respondents’ orientations and positioning in local government legal practice. A gender lens is also used to review reflexivity across the life course. Empirically, my study adds to the extant research on legal practice by providing a rich, multi-layered account of the role of gender in respondents’ experiences of local government legal practice. In addition, by revealing commonalities in respondents’ accounts my research also illuminates the role of gender in this field.

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