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Title: "You don't really have friends, you have acquaintances" : exploring the experience of friendship for 'adult third culture kids' from the UK : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: McClellan, Felicity Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 4289
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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As globalisation increases more families than ever are relocating from their passport countries for periods of temporary employment overseas. This has resulted in an increasing number of young people being raised in overseas locations. These young people are collectively referred to as Third Culture Kids (TCK) their adult counterparts are Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs). They are different from immigrants, as they do not expect to permanently settle in the location in which they have been residing. This lack of permanence has been criticised for engendering a variety of difficulties that TCKs and ATCKs must face. Of interest to this study was the observation that TCKs experience various difficulties with their friend relationships. This is problematic, as friendship has been found to be crucial to indicators of well-being such as happiness, and longevity. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of Adult Third Culture Kids’ experiences of friendship was undertaken. Eight ATCKs from the UK, three men and five women, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Analysis revealed that participants’ experience of friendship was situated in various themes. These included: the challenges of friendship; multiple identities in response to friendship; the psychological impact of friendship; and valued characteristics of friendship. Each theme was comprised of various subordinate themes that facilitated further understanding of the super ordinate theme. The findings were discussed with reference to the TCK literature and a wider review of psychological theory. Particular attention was given to the discussion of attachment theory, as this underscored several of the findings related to the Superordinate theme, the psychological impact of friendship; particularly the finding that ATCKs experience anxiety in friendships, report negative views of self and others and reveal a lack of strong attachments to their peers. In addition identity theory was also utilised in the discussion as the findings indicated a high salience of identity issues for ATCKs in relation to their friendship experiences, reflected in the theme, multiple identities in response to friendship. The implications for clinical practice were considered. These included suggestions for working with ATCKs who present with difficulties in their friend relationships, by exploring their history of loss, their anxiety about friend relationships and the meaning attached to becoming involved in peer relationships. Suggestions were also made for therapists to explore the ATCKs sense of self in terms of negative thoughts about self and other, including being ‘English/British’ or forming relationships with ‘English/British’ peers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral