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Title: Understandings and experiences : a post-constructionist cultural psychology of addiction and recovery in the 12-Step tradition
Author: Larkin, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0001 3605 2150
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis reports on the development and findings of an ethnographic study of addiction and recovery. It begins, in Chapter One with an argument for a 'post-constructionist' cultural psychology. This is an approach which aims for openness, transparency and complexity, whilst also acknowledging problems of construction, assumption, reflexivity, and indexicality. The aim of this project - to investigate addiction in terms of both personal experience and cultural meaning - is subsequently realised through an accumulative, inductive process of qualitative investigation, moving outward from initial cases to accommodate wider, intersubjective understandings. In Chapter Two, this process begins with a critical reading of folk and technical theories of addiction. This comprises the first stage of the development of a 'framework for understanding addiction.' In Chapter Three, the framework is further expanded through an exploratory investigation of persons' understandings and experiences of their engagement in 'risky-but-rewarding' activities (a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 5 bungee-jumpers and 6 Ecstasyusers). This exploration of non-problematic activities, partially analogous to addiction, is intended to provide a counterpoint to the subsequent generation of an ethnographic account of a 12-Step addictions treatment centre. In Chapter Four, reflection upon the 'atheoretical' approach to data analysis utilised in Chapter Three leads to the development of an argument for 'interpretative phenomenological analysis' (IPA) as the preferred methodological stance of this project. Chapter Five applies IPA to 10 semi-structured interviews conducted at the addictions centre. The analysis of these interviews is further contextualised by drawing upon observational data from the centre. An analysis is developed which addresses the questions, 'w hat is it like to be an addict?' and 'what does it mean to be an addict?' within the 12-Step context. Chapter Six uses Q-methodology to provide a wider investigation of the answers to these questions, allowing tire detailed analyses of Chapter Five to be re-oriented within the broader cultural framework for understanding addiction. In the final chapter, the most salient elements of each stage of the project are integrated together. The 'fi'amework for understanding addiction' is summarised, and recommendations for more flexible therapeutic responses to addiction are offered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social constructionism