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Type: Thesis
Title: What is social support? : a grounded theory of social interaction in the context of the new family.
Author: Williams, Philippa
Issue Date: 2005
School/Discipline: Dept. of Public Health
Abstract: Social support has received considerable research attention. With respect to the new family this attention has focused on the nuclear family and, in particular, on the health and well being of mothers and babies. While some studies have shown that support during pregnancy and postpartum is associated with better physical and psychosocial outcomes for women and babies, other studies have shown little association. One possible explanation for these inconsistent findings is the lack of clarity that exists about the meaning of social support. This lack of clarity is evident in the general social support literature and in empirical studies of social support in the specific context of the new family. This thesis, by focusing on the meaning of social support, does three things. First, it analyses the concept of social support as it is defined in the academic literature. I argue that a contextualised and qualitative approach to the meaning of social support is necessary to improve research in specific contexts and to extend the general discussion of social support. Second, I provide an example of this contextualised approach by exploring the meaning of social support in the context of the new family. In so doing I demonstrate that social support is not a set of supportive behaviours and cannot be discretely defined. As a current research concept, the primacy of social support is undermined in the empirical chapters of this thesis. The substantive theory that develops is one of social interaction in the context of the new family. The meaning of social interaction in this context is shaped by perspective, the situational context and the relationship within which it occurs. While social interaction is inclusive of notions of social support it is not restricted to them. Understanding social support within the broader experience of social interaction renders a holistic picture of what is going on in the context of the new family. Finally, I demonstrate that using a qualitative research methodology to explore the meaning of social support in a specific context improves our understanding of social support in a number of ways. It reveals varied and detailed meanings that can be used to improve research within a particular social context; it highlights processes that can inform research in other social contexts, and, it raises questions that are important for the general discussion of social support.
Advisor: Braunack-Mayer, Annette Joy
Barclay, Lesley
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Dept. of Public Health, 2005
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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