Title page for ETD etd-02102005-141621

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Stark, Bridget Ann
URN etd-02102005-141621
Document Title The construction of identity within a context of parental alcoholism
Degree MA (Counselling Psychology)
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Mr L H Human
  • young adults
  • females
  • discourse analysis
  • parental alcoholism
  • alcoholism
  • construction of identity
  • focus groups
  • social constructionism
  • qualitative research
  • ethnic ratio
Date 2004-03-10
Availability unrestricted
This research is concerned with the construction of identity with regards to female children of alcoholics studying at Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). Available literature on this topic suggests that the context of parental alcoholism is not conducive to the healthy construction of identity, particularly with regards to self-esteem and the ability to create strong, trusting relationships in later life. It seems that it is during the young adult years, namely between the ages of 18 and 25, that concerns surrounding one’s identity begin to emerge.

The study was conducted from a qualitative perspective, namely social constructionism, in which meaning making is unique to each individual and the construction of identity is impacted on by one’s context, culture, history and language. Focus groups were conducted on a sample of female, students at RAU who were socialised within the context of parental alcoholism. This sample represented the ethnic ratio of RAU students during 2003. The focus group sessions were videotaped with the informed consent of the participants. Five focus groups were conducted for a duration of one hour each. The sessions were transcribed after which a discourse analysis was executed.

The results of the study suggest that the construction of identity is impacted on by a context of parental alcoholism. It seems that female students experience a great sense of responsibility towards others to the extent of taking on a parental function and denying their own needs. In addition to this, a common thread, which seemed to weave itself through the stories of the participants, was that of struggling with intimate relationships, in particular, trusting others appeared especially difficult and painful.

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