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Author Wyckoff, Donna Louise Galey
Title Speaking about life experiences: Personal narrativizing and social constructionism
Descript 362 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 56-01, Section: A, page: 0018
Adviser: Daniel R. Barnes
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Ohio State University, 1994
This dissertation discusses the role of personal experience accounts and processes in the social construction of reality. Using an ethnographic approach and qualitative analysis, I examine both the public discourse and private recountings of childhood sexual abuse. This dissertation also touches on changes in historical concepts of incest and the use of personal narratives in claims-making and consciousness-raising activities
While "child" sexual abuse is discussed for contextualization, the main focus is on adult memories of "childhood" abuse. I examine media representations of the sexual abuse experience (talk shows, movies, self-help books, magazine articles, etc.), focusing primarily on treatments employing first-person accounts. Through rhetorical and discourse analysis, I established the prevailing institutional frameworks within which this experience is constructed: medical, religious, and legal
Such frameworks lend legitimacy to particular ideological shapings of the experience, and competing "dominant" stories have resulted. Most influential and pervasive of these are the "satanic-ritual abuse" version and the "feminist-recovery" version. Both stories, I assert, are participating in anxiety responses to the current disruption of social hierarchies. Such disruptions challenge categories of what "counts" as right, real, and moral in American society, and who gets to decide what counts. The satanic-ritual version defends a Western, Christian, patriarchal worldview and provides a rallying point and an "attackable" common enemy for diverse elements of conservative America. The feminist-recovery version attacks the patriarchy and promotes "women's ways" of thinking and behaving, even while it attempts to exonerate women from having "failed" to achieve expected levels of "success" in an affirmative-action America. Unfortunately, this strategy implicitly upholds much of the patriarchal definition of success in the process
Public discourse provide language and models for individual survivors to narrate their own experiences. While liberating in many ways, such discourse also imposes group-specific agendas onto what may, should, and ought to be said about the experiences. Transcripts from interviews conducted with individual survivors reflect attempts to adopt, adapt, or reject the dominant narratives of this experience, and reveal the power of the public discourse to shape private experience accounts
School code: 0168
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 56-01A
Subject American Studies
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Mass Communications
Alt Author The Ohio State University
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