CONSTRUCTING MEANING THROUGH PHOTO-PRODUCTION: DEATH AND LOSS IN POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS
Dadgostari, Tina 1988-
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Many post-secondary students will experience the death of a close family member or friend and making meaning of such tragedies is particularly challenging for this population. A lack of perceived emotional support is salient among post-secondary students. Understanding how post-secondary students communicate about their loss is essential to the development of adequate interventions that will help provide them with emotional support while grieving. Today, many students use social media to visually document their lives and share such experiences publicly. Most attempts to understand students’ experience of loss have neglected to examine other representations of grief, such as the use of photography. The current research examined loss within the post-secondary population using a photo-production methodology to understand the discourse of female students, analyse the utility of a photo-production methodology, and explore the visual data produced in interviews. The research was completed in three studies: study one examined verbal data produced by bereaved female students (n = 10) in interview; study two included data collected from interviews and follow-up questionnaires from a sample of both male and female students (n = 16); and study three focused exclusively on the photographs (n = 160) produced by students from study two. This research was informed by a social constructionist epistemology. The results of this research suggest that many participants used a sanitised script to communicate their loss experience. For participants, the sanitised version of their lived experience was valuable and effective as it facilitated support and acceptance from their peer group. The photo-production methodology allowed participants the freedom to choose what they contributed to the research project, increasing their locus of control, and enabling a positively transformative process. The photographs produced for the research project were widely diverse in their structure and content. The photographs also elicited emotional and cognitive reactions in the observer. An overall examination of the verbal and visual data together suggested that participants sought meaning for their loss in the research interviews and many students were looking to solve issues related to grief. As a result, the research methodology was beneficial for these students.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorChartier, Brian M
CommitteeMcMullen, Linda; Olver, Mark; Holtslander, Lorraine
Copyright DateMay 2018