Communication & Medicine, Vol 6, No 1 (2009)

A narrative of resistance: Presentation of self when parenting children with asthma

Ellen S. Cohn, Dharma E. Cortes, Julie M. Hook, Leanne S. Yinusa-Nyahkoon, Jeffrey L. Solomon, Barbara Bokhour
Issued Date: 13 Jul 2009


Using a social constructivist perspective and narrative analysis, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how an understanding of self-presentation in interactions may inform health care interventions. We examine how a single African American mother, living in poverty, presents her sense of self in the context of obtaining and providing asthma care for her children. By analyzing four separate encounters – two interviews with the children’s mother, the clinical encounter between the mother and her children’s doctor, and an interview with the doctor, we gain an understanding of the mother’s self-presentation and identity and the doctor’s view of the mother. The analyses reveal the mother’s consistent desire to protect her children in an unpredictable social world. By examining self-presentation, behavior that is typically construed as non-adherence is reframed as resilience, one mother’s attempt to assert control. We argue that an understanding of identity production may enable practitioners and patients to create collaborative interventions. The analysis presented in this paper points to the need for a co-constructed intervention that allows for choice and control and honors the mother’s sense of self.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v6i1.27


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