Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Women's and gender studies

Publication Details

Gender, Place and Culture, Vol.17, No.6, December, 2010, pp.759-774. Available from the publisher here


This article seeks to contribute to the literature on the meanings of domestic spaces by furthering understandings of the sorts of roles that space plays in shaping women’s leisure experiences. The study researched a group of 15 women who live in disadvantaged areas of Dublin city and care for dependent children. Focus groups and structured conversations revealed the poverty of the spatial capital available to these women, depicting local environments as difficult and stressful, and to be endured rather than enjoyed. They further revealed the extent to which the women’s lives were shaped by their obligations as care-givers. Within the home itself, private domestic spaces were found to be deeply embedded with powerful ideologies of motherhood that did not necessarily evaporate in the simple absence of obligations imposed by children. Instead, they tended to serve as constant reminders of how things ‘should be’, consequently constraining some women’s abilities to divest themselves of care-giving duties and engage in self-focused recreation. Some of the women studied were able to move beyond obligation, and for them leisure represented modest yet significant opportunities to self-determinedly relax, reclaim and even luxuriate in certain spaces within their homes. Similarly, once relieved of childcaring responsibilities, leisure encounters within the local environment afforded some women new insights into familiar spaces.