Title page for ETD etd-12222005-090657
|Type of Document
||Luff, Tracy L.
||The construction of social problems and the experience of human service programs : contradictory relations in a support group for adolescent mothers
|Bailey, Carol A.
|Flora, Cornelia Butler
|Allen, Katherine R.
|Calasanti, Toni M.
|Fuhrman, Ellsworth R.
- human services
- impression management
- adolescent mother
- feminist epistemology
|Date of Defense
The patterned interactions in a support group for
adolescent mothers are analyzed in the context of the
specific construction(s) of adolescent pregnancy and
motherhood that legitimate the program's existence.
Particular attention is paid to the way in which staff and
clients are positioned vis a vis one another through the
typification of the program's mission and goals. Data
analyzed include field notes recorded during ten months of
participant observation with the group, program documents
describing the history, mission, and goals of the program,
and an in-depth interview with the Program Director.
Changes in funding patterns led to an increased emphasis on
the prevention of child abuse as a goal of the program. The
resulting expectations of program staff and assumptions
about adoelscent mothers cast these two groups of women into
social identities containing inherent contradictions.
Differences of social class further complicate the
relationship between the groups. Varying strategies of
self-presentation are employed by clients and staff as they
struggle with these contradictions. The young mothers
present themselves in ways that maintain distance between
themselves and staff. While the staff are never completely
successful and breaking down the barriers between themselves
and the young mothers, one style of self-presentation has
the potential to bridge the gap. The findings have
practical implications for the design and implementation of
human service programs, particularly those which address
stigmatized categories of women. The findings also have
theoretical implications relevant to ongoing discussions of
feminist epistemology, and the intersection of gender and
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