Managing a Disrupted Lifecourse: Issues of Identity and Emotion Work

Catherine Exley, Gayle Letherby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


This article draws on the experiences of two groups of people: namely a group of people who have defined, or still define themselves as 'infertile' and/or 'involuntarily childless', and second, a group of people with cancer who have a terminal prognosis, who may be perceived as dying 'prematurely'. We start by arguing that 'infertility' and/or 'involuntary childlessness' and terminal illness have a disruptive effect on daily lives and future expectations, and we are concerned throughout with how this disruption is managed. In particular, we explore how individuals who have experienced such a disruption to their lives manage both their sense of self and the self in relation to others. Within this we are concerned specifically with the emotion work which individuals engage in, and we explore the link between emotion work and lifecourse disruption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-132
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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