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|Theoretical approach and aims. Families change throughout their life course according to both internal changes and transformations that occur in relation to the broader context they are connected with. In particular, changes of any one family member, dyad, or triad may trigger dis-equilibration and re-organization of the whole family system (Cowan, 1991). Thus, how do such processes of change occur? Starting from this question I have developed a research project that put great effort in devising methodological procedures and theoretical advances intended to explore how families change in their life course. The literature examination has pointed out the lack of models and methods that can account for the processes of change in complex systems such as families. Recent reviews (Kerig & Lindhal, 2001; Kreppner, 2005) underline the relevance of considering the whole family as the unit of analysis in order to grasp developmental processes, and to carry out research based on observation as privileged method (O’Brian, 2005). The definition of the notion of developmental processes requires also further specifications. Among the disciplines that from different research fields focused on this issue (developmental and social psychology, and family therapy) I found illuminating some suggestions from the works of Breunlin (1988). In particular, the author shed light on the notion of microtransitions to stress that families develop through a continuous process of negotiation that take place in the everyday interactions. Family development is then a continuous process in which all family members participate; however, there are periods in which mircotransitions are clustered at a given time, and one of them is adolescence. Adolescence is a period of dramatic and intense changes for all family members, thus it is a privileged “window” through which observe how parents and children re-organize and regulate their relations. Methods. This research project involved 32 Italian families with at least an adolescent child (age range: 13-16). They were all Caucasian and belonged to the upper or middle class. Families were recruited through high schools and youth associations. Three different studies characterize this research project, and each of them has specific goals. Study 1. The goal of this study was to build the methodological “foundations” of the entire research project. Innovative methodological procedures, based on observation, have been devised for the data collection and analysis: a) specific setting (both laboratory of observation and families’ homes), b) peculiar instruments which allowed all family members to participate (videotaped family interviews) and c) analytical procedure based on frame analysis. The two constructs, which define microtransitions were then operationalized: oscillation and coordination. Study 2. In this study four specific patterns of family interaction, which emerged from the interlocking of coordination and oscillation, are presented: quiet pattern, drifting pattern, stormy pattern, and critical pattern. Study 3. In this study further methodological procedures were developed in order to outline the specific forms of sequential interactions (homeostatic, negotiation, stable and symmetrical, and alternated), which characterize the four family patterns. In particular, the videotaped material was analyzed focusing on the specific stancetaking process displayed by family members in the course of the interviews. Furthermore, it was possible to observe how individual positions (the adolescent’s one was focused) co-emerged as the result of a situated interactive process, which account for the negotiation of power in the families. Further research directions and practical implications are discussed.
|Università degli Studi di Parma. Dipartimento di Psicologia
|Dottorato in Psicologia Sociale
|© Marina Everri, 2010
|Families under the microscope. Observing interactional processes in family microtransitions
|Appears in Collections:
|Lettere, Arti, Storia e Società. Tesi di dottorato
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|Marina Everri Tesi.pdf
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