Social worlds of learning differently : a parallel study of two families
Rayburn, John Shane
MetadataShow full item record
This autoethnographic dissertation is a parallel study of two families at different points in time and yet timelessly bound by a similar experience of having a family member with a school-identified disability. The purpose of this research was to explore how two families use narratives as tools for defining and understanding themselves as they attempted to construct, participate, and navigate worlds of schooling and worlds beyond school. From a sociocultural perspective (Vygotsky, 1978, 1987) of language, narrative theory and narrative inquiry frame the research (Bruner, 1986, 1990; Coles, 1989; McAdams, 1993; Polkinghorne, 1988). Multilayered, rich narratives offer interpretations of experiences and the narratives offer data that elaborates upon Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological theory and explores how children with invisible differences and their families are positioned by competing Discourses (Gee, 1996). Adopting the definition of autoethnography espoused by Ellis and Bochner (2000), the researcher became part of the phenomenon under the scope of inquiry and traced his academic and personal life as a sibling of a brother who struggled to learn along with the narratives of other family members. Human lives are considered texts (Ricoeur, 1981) and language treated as data. Data from a parallel family was collected over six months through interactive interviewing (Ellis, Kiesinger, & Tillmann-Healy, 1997), email conversations, and participant observation. The researcher used a modified version of phenemonological hermeneutics (Van Manen, 1990) and Alexander’s (1988) method of analyzing personal data as primary methods of analysis. Using narrative examples, the researcher offers new ways of understanding stigmatization from the perception of two families, explores possibilities of fostering more equitable and sensitive relationships with families, provides an elaborated discussion of human development as conceived through the writing of the narrative, and engages readers to consider their own developing responses to the narrative.