Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Arts in Communication
Dr. Laurel Traynowicz
Recognizing that family (of any type) is a negotiated construction of individuals provides an insight into how people create the unique relationship that we call “family.” To gain a deeper understanding of stepfamily identity and how a sense of family is constructed, a life story interview approach was used to gather narratives from 20 adult children of stepfamilies. The narratives were analyzed using a qualitative/interpretive method, resulting in a balanced view of stepfamilies as having both positive and negative features similar to any other family type. It was found that individual adherence to rituals within the stepfamily provides a sense of family through symbolic communication. Additionally, it was found that children of stepfamilies describe a sense of family resulting from negotiating a complex set of relationships using an offer/accept interaction. This symbolic communication interaction provides children and stepparents the opportunity to accept or reject individual relationships within the larger framework of family rituals.
Lang, Donna Jean, "Stepfamily Stories: How Stories about Rituals Communicate a Sense of Family" (2010). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. Paper 83.