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Title: Dinner with Wilma : on the relation between (inter)subjectivity, memory and emotion management in migrant-in-the-family interactions
Author: Engfer, Hilke
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis reports on the findings of a heuristic study on participants’ communicative means of co-constructing (inter)subjective remembering in interactions with an Alzheimer’s patient. The case study presented in this thesis reflects a typical German ‘migrant-in-the-family’ home care arrangement, consisting of a number of family carers and nursing service employees alongside the frail elderly and a migrant live-in. Oral data were collected through ethnographic fieldwork. Over a period of six months, for approximately four days a week, three hours a day, interactions were audio recorded that involve one Alzheimer’s patient (‘Wilma’), three Polish live-ins, three of Wilma’s five children, and seven employees of the local nursing service. In the existing literature on the ‘migrant- in-the-family’ model, the scholarly focus in sociology is on the devaluation of domestic work. In particular, Arlie Hochschild’s framework for the analysis of ‘emotion management’ is used to outline the strategies individuals use to create ‘appropriate’ feeling displays, as well as the emotional costs of doing so. Categorising feeling displays either as surface acting (feigning emotion) or deep acting (authentic emotion), this approach treats ‘emotion management’ as a subjective and cognitive process. Taking on board an interactional perspective, this thesis approaches ‘emotion management’ as situated and distributed social practice and not only as cognitive achievement. In the spirit of Sacks’s ‘any-direction’ approach to analysis, this thesis’s data analysis draws on research in cognitive and social psychology, as well as neuroscience to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning-making processes. The general framework for analysis are Sacks’s lectures on story-telling in conversations. Findings show that participants’ schema-consistent actions can achieve affective coherence regarding the individual’s goals. However, this can, as a side effect, provoke a relationship mismatch. Consequently, it is argued that schema-related feeling displays of internal emotion management simultaneously affect negotiations of positions within the relationship. This way, participants’ conflicting frames concerning the home care situation potentially explain dysfunctional communication in terms of overall aims and the setup of Wilma’s care. Yet, my analysis shows that frames and schemata are subject to an on-going adaptive learning process as emotion management is distributed within the participation framework.
Supervisor: Meinhof, Ulrike ; Armbruster, Heidemarie ; Cowley, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman