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Title: "Am I doing it right?": a discursive analysis of cancer narratives
Authors: Chapman, Rosemary
Keywords: Social constructionism
Cancer
Psychology
Medical care
Human services
Sociology
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: © Rosemary Chapman
Abstract: This thesis explores the difficulties of talking about cancer. Conversational interviews with 17 people diagnosed with cancer are analysed from the perspective of discursive psychology which treats accounts and the description of events as discourse practices and categories. Cancer is considered a mysterious and frightening disease associated with myths and taboos. It is a sensitive topic and talking about it can be a delicate and difficult thing to do for all concerned. If a person with cancer (PWC) is not seen or heard to be 'being positive' or 'adopting a fighting spirit, they could be left with a sense of blame, guilt or failure. It is proposed that not only do they have to contend with managing to live with a life threatening illness but the metaphorical descriptions attributed to cancer, the 'heroic model' and its accompanying discourses and expectations construct the ill person as being morally accountable. Narrative themes of discovery, diagnosis, doctors and delay, social relationships, the indignities of treatment and talk of death and dying are analysed. The analysis reveals some of the problems and interactional difficulties that participants have to manage, and it considers some of the dilemmas and problems produced in cancer narratives and how discursive Practices, such as laughter, are displayed. It considers the way participants discursively construct notions such asdoing being responsible, 'complaining and blaming' and 'doing being positive' and it reveals how participants' concerns of identity and moral accountability are rhetorically accomplished and managed. The findings of this thesis emphasise how PWC work to maintain the identity of someone who is bearing their illness 'patiently", without complaining and are seen to be a 'good patient'. The analysis reveals that participants construct their identity as someone who is being positive and that they not only have to manage the interactional problems that their illness poses for others and their inadequacies to cope with people with cancer, but additionally they have to manage the moral restrictions on not being able to admit that they are not coping. It is suggested that an increased awareness of the psychological burdens and interactional difficulties people with cancer report in their accounts can contribute to a better understanding of what and how people with cancer manage these additional burdens in their social lives.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/6791
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Social Sciences)

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