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‘Everything in Motion, Motion in Everything’: The experience and process of negotiating development transitions

Robinson, J.L. (2011). ‘Everything in Motion, Motion in Everything’: The experience and process of negotiating development transitions. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City London University)


This study seeks to understand how people experience and negotiate estrangement from nuclear family members during adulthood. The central research aim was to arrive at a theoretical account of how people psychologically experience and manage estrangement within the meaningful context of their lives. To date, this is a research area of psychological experience that has been largely unaccounted for, either statistically or through qualitative investigation. From in-depth qualitative interview data, this study used grounded theory analysis (Strauss and Corbin, 1990 Corbin and Strauss, 2008) to explore how adults experience and negotiate the process of family estrangement over time. The sample in this study consisted of 15 participants aged between 19 and 64 years old. Participants self-identified as having been estranged from a parent, child or sibling for at least one year during adulthood. Some were still estranged, while others were reconciled with previously estranged family members. The findings suggest that family estrangement is experienced as a complex process of personal transition and continual adjusting, which involves the negotiation of emotional and ideological distance from family relationships. Distance must be negotiated intrapersonally, interpersonally, socially and symbolically, and the findings throw light upon each of these domains. The phenomenon of family estrangement is a broad one, but it is hoped that this study arrives at a balanced, integrative and informative account of its central concerns. Further to this study, recommendations are made for further academic investigation and the practice of counselling psychology.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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