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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring familial relationship growth and negotiation: A case study of Outward Bound family courses
by Overholt, Jillisa R., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2013, 233; 3607482
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the phenomenon of father-child relationship development within the context of an Outward Bound (OB) family course, an environment that may both disrupt the ordinary aspects of an established relationship, and provide activities to purposefully encourage relationship development through a variety of aspects inherent to the experience such as challenge, communication, and extended time together. Specific attention was given to the ways in which the OB course functioned as a disruption to established roles and the ways in which mutually understood roles and obligations were renegotiated in response to the demands of the situation.

In order to better understand the phenomenon of father-child participation in an OB family course, this study utilized an ethnographic case study design, beginning with in-depth observation, coupled with pre- and post-course interviews with participants enrolled in an OB family course. Additional interviews with participants from previous courses, and course instructors were also conducted.

Data analysis revealed several main themes, and begins with a description of the OB family course setting, with attention to important elements, aspects and outcomes of the experience. Motivation for participation in an OB family course was identified as a strategy of concerted cultivation, in addition to the desire to have a parent-child bonding experience. An in-depth analysis of the OB course as an "equalizing experience" demonstrates ways in which parent-child roles were seen to shift or even reverse in response to the demands of the challenging and novel environment. Finally, the perceived impact of the OB experience on individuals and their relationships was analyzed utilizing a life course perspective as a guiding framework.

Overall, the OB family course is a unique setting, both as a type of outdoor adventure program, and as a type of family experience. This study highlights the ways in which the unique environment and social structure allow parents and children to interact with one another in new ways. When individuals return home together they continue to recount their experiences and draw upon them in their everyday lives. In this way the OB family course may serve as the impetus for long-term relationship change.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ewert, Alan
Commitee: Lackey, Lara, Mowatt, Rasul, Thoits, Peggy
School: Indiana University
Department: School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Individual & family studies, Recreation
Keywords: Adventure education, Equalizing expereince, Families, Life course, Outward Bound, Roles
Publication Number: 3607482
ISBN: 978-1-303-65064-2
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