Researching relationships: Unpacking the discursive organisation of infidelity and monogamy in personal relationships

Nicholls, Kate (2009). Researching relationships: Unpacking the discursive organisation of infidelity and monogamy in personal relationships. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)

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Abstract

This research employed a social constructionist paradigm and utilised discourse analysis to examine the discursive organisation of infidelity and monogamy in personal relationships. Twenty-five participants took part in this study, fifteen taking part in semi-structured interviews and ten participants taking part in group discussions (two groups of three, one group of four). The interviews and focus groups primarily explored participants’ views and experiences of monogamy and infidelity in relationships. The focus group participants were also convened for second meetings, where participants discussed the results and analysis generated from their first group meeting. The discursive analysis employed in this research was guided by a Discursive Psychology approach (Potter & Wetherell 1987) and a methodology developed to explore ‘discourse analysis in action’ by incorporating principles from Action Research. The results presented explored discursive constructions of monogamy, infidelity, relationship break-ups and also several broader relationship discourses. The findings suggest that although there is a grand discourse of monogamy often informing participants’ discussions of personal relationships, and participants draw on normative discourses in terms of labelling behaviour as in/fidelity. Participants also diversely rework discourses of monogamy and infidelity to present more contextualised accounts, varyingly constructed around their own lived experiences. The findings highlight the potential for confusion and interpersonal complications, as well as the complications for researchers, when negotiating and exploring the terrain of monogamy and infidelity in personal relationships. The findings further point to the theoretical importance of paying attention to the constructed nature of language and its role in constructing varying relationship realities. Further this thesis has contributed to a theoretical and methodological debate on the development of the use of discourse analysis as an appropriate methodology, the development of a framework to explore ‘discourse analysis in action’ posited the benefits of incorporating principles from action research into a discourse analysis method. This methodology component was theoretically interesting and also invaluable in terms of adding to the analysis and the understanding gained of infidelity and monogamy in personal relationships.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/12446

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