Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Relative silence: A phenomenological study of silences, families, and addiction
by Acheson, Kristi Renee, Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2008, 290; 3302971
Abstract (Summary)

Communication and relationships have become increasingly implicated, both as causes and effects, in addiction. Both the scholarly and popular press have responded to this growing awareness of addiction as a "family disease" with self-help books, with analyses of communication "problems" such as silence, and with treatment recommendations. Yet, the bodies of literature on addiction and the family, and on silences and the family, often appear to be constructed on taken-for-granted definitions of "addict" (as someone currently engaging in substance abuse), "family" (as nuclear units of biologically-related people), and "silence" (as a lack of communication) that fail to adequately address the actual lived experiences of people in this context. Inspired by an extended critique of the relevant literatures, this study employs semiotic phenomenology, integrated with ethnographic methods and performative writing, in order to examine the phenomenon of communicative silence in the context of addiction. The study brackets assumptions about who constitutes an addict and what comprises silence, with the purpose of reconceptualizing silences as culturally-situated and bodily-experienced phenomena.

The study presents a set of 33 descriptions of experiences of silence in the context of addiction. These descriptions, developed based upon interviews with 16 participants and several years of participant observation in support groups for addicts and their family members, as well as upon the products of various autoethnographic methods, are presented in poetic form. Through an analysis of metaphor and metonymy in the poetry, a reduction of the nature of experiences of silence emerges. The study also offers an interpretation of the cultural structures that allow experiences of silence to manifest in certain ways in the context of addiction, and a discussion of the implications of this work for rethinking definitions of addiction, family, and silence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: Arizona State University
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Communication, Families & family life, Personal relationships, Sociology
Keywords: Addiction, Family communication, Metaphor, Performative writing, Phenomenology, Silence
Publication Number: 3302971
ISBN: 9780549488873
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