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Being and Becoming: A Narrative Inquiry into Teenage Girls’ Online Discussion of Eating Disorders
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies. Linkoping University.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study takes a social constructionist approach, using narrative inquiry methods to analyse posts made by teenager girls on an online eating disorder forum. The study draws upon the sociology of childhood, which argues that children should be recognised as social actors, and as both ‘beings’ in the present, as well as future ‘becomings’. The study also draws upon the sociology of diagnosis, which recognizes the contested nature of diagnoses and medical authority in contemporary society. As lay people have increasing access to information, they have more power to challenge the ways in which their bodily experiences are constructed, as well as their potential medicalisation and demedicalisation.The study makes use of data from a website called TeenHelp, focusing specifically on the ‘eating disorders’ forum. Posts were selected from those made by girls aged 13 to 19 over the two years prior to the study (i.e. 1 April 1014 – 1 April 2016). Posts from 12 girls were analysed using narrative inquiry methods.The study identified the following six narratives: 1) identity narratives; 2) health narratives; 3) diagnostic narratives; 4) lay and expert narratives; 5) demedicalisation narratives and 6) recovery narratives. Importantly, these narratives do not exist in isolation from one another, but interact resulting in the ‘co-construction’ of eating disorders. These narratives are also not static, but are contested – constantly being challenged and negotiated on the forum.Overall, the posts analysed in this study showed that these teenage girls are always walking a fine line between being and becoming. They occupy a liminal space between being ‘thin’ and ‘fat’; between being ‘sick’ and ‘healthy’; between being ‘lay patients’ and ‘expert advisers’; between ‘treatment’ and ‘recovery’. The narratives analysed here show how these young women are wrestling with the complex notion of eating disorders as a potential source of identity, a medical diagnosis and condition which they may or may not ever fully recover from.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , p. 45
Keywords [en]
teenage; girls; eating disorders; online forum; narrative inquiry
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-147665ISRN: LIU-TEMAB/MPCS-A—15/021-SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-147665DiVA, id: diva2:1203718
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Child Studies (120 ECTS credits)
Presentation
2016-06-02, Linköping University, Linköping, 11:34 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-05-04 Created: 2018-05-04 Last updated: 2018-05-04Bibliographically approved

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Year 2 Master's Thesis(864 kB)49 downloads
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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
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Language
  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
  • rtf