Title page for ETD etd-04082010-114813

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Stemmet, Leatia
URN etd-04082010-114813
Document Title A thematic inquiry into the dominant cultural and familial factors in South African coloured people's experience of anorexia nervosa : a qualitative study
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr E du Preez Supervisor
  • systemic principles
  • thematic analysis
  • qualitative research design
  • thematic networks
  • cultural factorsm familial context
  • social factors
  • South Africa
  • coloured cultural group
  • anorexia nervosa
  • reciprocity
  • circularity
  • feedback
  • control
Date 2009-04-30
Availability unrestricted

This study seeks to explore anorexia nervosa as experienced within the South African coloured community in the specific. It represents an examination of themes within the participants’ depictions, discovering those themes that concur with existent literature, as well as discerning novel themes within the target group. Literature proves to yield varied results with regard to anorexia as presented in diverse cultures. Sufficient awareness is lacking within the South African context, where a scarcity of available literature that explores the experiences of the coloured anorexic individual necessitates the need for the current study.

The contributing factors are viewed to involve societal, cultural, and familial aspects, all of which are situated within a systemic frame of reference. Systems theory provides the foundation within which these factors are explored, aiming to provide the reader with in-depth knowledge as to the functioning of the anorectic patient. It should be noted that these factors are interconnected, influencing each other in a circular manner. Attention is awarded to not only larger systems of societal and cultural influences, but also serves to encompass the functioning of the anorectic within the familial system. The reciprocity that exists within and between sub-systems is investigated, with the focus being the interrelatedness between members. Recursive feedback and associated processes are examined as they relate to the development and maintenance of anorexia.

A qualitative research design was applied, where semi-structured interviews served as the chosen data collection strategy. Interviews were conducted at the hospital where they received treatment, and aimed to extract the meanings inherent in the participants’ experiences. A limited availability of diagnosed coloured anorexic individuals resulted in two willing participants partaking in the study. Thematic networks enabled the researcher to explore their representations in depth, leading to the subsequent organising of themes for further analysis. Two global themes emerged upon examination, the first of which was identified as “familial impact and patterns”, consisting of organising themes of relational positioning and interactional processes. Organising themes of expectations and internal emotional states constitute the second global theme of “control”. These themes are supported by a variety of basic themes, all of which serve to enhance the understanding of the organising themes, contributing to the respective global themes. Extensive exploration of the discovered themes followed, with the investigation proceeding within a systems theory framework.

A conclusive discussion serves the purpose of bringing the exploration to a close. Relevant literature is incorporated into the discussion, providing the reader with an integrated understanding of the findings of the study within the broader field of anorexia nervosa.

Copyright © 2008, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Stemmet, L 2008, A thematic inquiry into the dominant cultural and familial factors in South African coloured people's experience of anorexia nervosa : a qualitative study, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-04082010-114813/ >

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