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Recollecting family stories : narrative construction and meaning in adulthood

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Title: Recollecting family stories : narrative construction and meaning in adulthood
Author: Collins, Claudia D.
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Counselling Psychology
Copyright Date: 1995
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between family stories and lives. A family story is defined as a story, tale, or anecdote told orally within a family about family members or family events. Within this study, family stories were examined as second hand tales that a person heard recounted by others. An exploratory case study design was employed to understand the experience and meaning of family stories within the lives of three adult co-researchers who were over the age of 30. Unstructured in-depth interviews designed to elicit prominent family stories were conducted. The stories were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for similarities, contrasts, and complementarities of character, plot, and theme. A hermeneutical framework was then used to examine and interpret the meaning behind the stories. Validation interviews were conducted with each co-researcher to verify the family story meanings and to explore the impact of these themes in the co-researcher's life. The interview material was then rendered into a narrative account, describing each person's family storytelling experiences and related themes of meaning from their own lives. A comparative analysis of the three narrative accounts was conducted to uncover structural and thematic commonalities. The study confirmed the significance of prominent family stories as narrative constructions which offer guidelines for living. A strong convergence was found between family story themes and integral themes from the person's own life story. The results suggest that the family story experience resembles the following structure. Life before the stories was marked by the theme of receptivity resulting from meaning impoverishment. The family story experience itself was characterized by powerful identification (positive or negative) with the stories, which offered significant meaning and interpretive potential to the person. Life after the stories was marked by clarity, guidance and vision, or an integration of the story meanings into lives. Family stories were found to resemble early recollections, in that they serve as metaphors which reflect the personal orientation of the individual. A model for incorporating family stories into a counselling setting (following comparable techniques for working with early recollections) was proposed.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/4373
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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