Lifelines : an ethnographic study of identification processes and discursive practices in mutual aid groups

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Bell, Brenda Jean
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Arts and Science, 1999
This thesis research is an ethnographic account of how identity and a sense of community are discursively constructed and managed among participants in mutual aid groups. Research findings are based upon interview and observational data collected from two support groups located in a Canadian city. While members' accounts provide a basis for interpreting the meaning of support as experienced, researcher observations focus on discursive identification practices. My interpretation sheds light on the dynamic interplay between notions of community, symbolic boundary and identity. Participant stories grounded in experiential knowledge, serve as critical connecting nodes in the construction and reproduction of community and as legitimate leverage to resist denied agency. These case study findings suggest how support, community and identity are collectively accomplished, in part, by managing symbolic boundaries through positioning practices. An understanding of these micro-processes has practical implications for the development of mutual aid groups to meet health and social needs.
xiv, 310 leaves ; 29 cm.
Self-help groups , Social group work , Dissertations, Academic