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Title: Managing shame : a contextual analysis
Author: Leeming, Dawn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 2052
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2007
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Feelings of shame can be difficult to manage. However, there has been limited research attention to the contextual factors which may make this particularly difficult, partly because shame has often been conceptualised as primarily an intrapsychic phenomenon. Alongside this, investigations of managing potentially shaming identities, often conceptualised as `stigma management', have generally not focused on emotion. To bridge this gap in the literature I draw on theoretical resources such as symbolic interactionism and social constructionism to conceptualise experiences of shame as constructed within interaction in particular social locations and from the discursive resources available. Within this framework I attempt to develop a more contextualisedu nderstandingo f managings hamet hrough two qualitative investigations. The first study exploresf ifty written accountso f experienceso f shame provided by a cross-section of students and employees at a British university. These are obtainedb y meanso f a questionnairew hich asksp articipantst o provide a narrative account of an experience of public shame and then answer several openended questions about this. The data is interrogated through two analyses. The first is a thematic analysis which explores the data as revealing something of the participants' subjective experiences. The second analysis draws on Foucauldian approachesto discoursea nalysisa nd treatst he data as a text which revealst he subject positionsm adea vailablef or resisting shame. The analysesp oint to the importanceo f a contextualiseda pproacht o understandingm anagings hame. In particular they illuminate the importance of positioning vis-ä-vis others, the use of shame as a form of social control, the varied meanings of shame and suggest that feelings of shame can be debilitating and difficult to manage, particularly where these are multi-layered and contradictory. The seconds tudy explorest he managemenot f potential shamei n relation to using mental health services through 22 interviews with service users. A thematic analysis of meaning-making which draws on both contextual constructionist and discursive approachesto data analysish ighlights the importanceo f the availability of both discursive and relational resources for avoiding and repairing shame. As for the first study, the results of the analysis suggest that some of the prior literature may have emphasised self-acceptance in repairing shame at the expense of theorising the need for a shift in the self-in-relation-to-others. I discuss the implications of these theoretical developments from both studies for mental health services and the development of approaches to helping individuals who struggle with shame which are not perniciously individualising and hence shaming. I also reflect on what the analyses indicate about the possibilities for combining methodologies which have apparently differing epistemological positions and the challenges involved in doing this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available