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Title:"Starvation...is Who I Am": From Eating Disorder to Recovering Identities Through Narrative Co-Construction in an Internet Support Group
Author(s):Walstrom, Mary K.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Carolyn E. Taylor
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:This dissertation examines narrative activity within an Internet-based support group for women with anorexia and bulimia, alt.support.eating-disord. (ASED), focusing on identity co-construction. Through micro-level discourse analysis, I trace ways in which support group participants portray themselves and others as protagonists through five types of positionings, involving action, states of being, and stances of thinking, feeling, and evaluating. I also address ways in which these positionings systematically appear within personal narrative, an ASED public narrative, and a cultural narrative of recovery. I argue that through these five positionings, as seen within two-part exchanges (an initial post and a reply), the co-construction of five stages of identity may be seen, identities ranging from eating-disorder-oriented to recovering. I further argue that this identity co-construction process co-occurs with, and is potentially facilitated by, the facework accomplished by group participants, creating a communicative context of safety. My analysis lays out theoretical and methodological implications, stressing interdisciplinary directions for research. I assert an ethical approach to Internet-based research, rooted in a qualitative, feminist, and communitarian agenda. I foreground practical facets of this analysis for women with eating disorders, illuminating ways that micro-level choices in structuring and presenting eating disorder problems shape everyday eating disorder practices and potentials for recovery. I frame and situate this analysis within my participation in ASED discussions and my own long-term struggle with anorexia nervosa. These personal experiences and perspectives were central to my ability to analytically see and emotionally sense the myriad voices that emerged as salient to me within ASED narratives, voices that ground and structure this micro-level discourse analysis.
Issue Date:1999
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:460 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/87570
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9953171
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1999


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