Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

12-17-2010

Graduate Advisor

Therese S. Cristiani, Ed.D

Committee

Mark Pope

Rebecca Rogers

Susan Kashubeck-West

Abstract

It has been predicted that if you were born in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a one in two chanceof either living in a blended family as a child or as an adult (Coleman, Ganong, & Fine, 2000).In 1989, Glick predicted that in the 21st century, blended families would be the leading family form. Today in 2010, they are far from being a new phenomenon (Stewart, 2008). They are a rapidly growing part of the American population according to Census data and over half of American families may be blended, i.e., formed by (married or non-married) partners with children. This investigation is a small scale, exploratory, and descriptive study of diverse blended family couples who are formed from married parents, non-married parents, gay parents and lesbian parents with biological children who live in the residence and are the product of former relationships. The main focus was to investigate dominant cultural models of these families and given those constructs, how did the couples conform to, transform, resist or revoice dominant or alternate-cultural models? Five diverse blended family couples were recruited and interviewed in their homes. The small sample is not representative, but largely heterogeneous. Participants varied in terms of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, educational level, s socioeconomic background and family structure. Data analysis methods consisted of a 2-step process integrating Grounded Theory (Glaser 1998) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The interest was not only in what these families were saying, but how did they say it, and what identities they took on as they said it. The findings suggested that although the couples were unanimous in defining their relationships in positive and complementary ways, depending on various variables, some of the couples had overlapping and conflicting positioning. All five couples fit into three overlapping categories: (1) Resist-Transform: two couples; (2) Resist- Conform-Revoice: one couple; and (3) Resist-Transform-Revoice: two couples. The data is voluminous, providing numerous opportunities for additional investigation into the unique worlds of diverse blended families. A call for innovative approaches that define them positively and culturally variant studies that normalize their experiences with less comparable investigations are discussed.

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