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Outside the dyad: An Ethnographic Journey Beyond Attachment, with African-Caribbean Families in London

Zanatta, Francesca; (2018) Outside the dyad: An Ethnographic Journey Beyond Attachment, with African-Caribbean Families in London. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

For over one hundred years, Western Psychology has been preoccupied with developing an understanding of the dyad par excellence: mother and child. This thesis explores the cultural validity of attachment theory and the concept of the dyad in families of African Caribbean heritage in London, UK. This is developed through the juxtaposition of an ethnography of emic perspectives and experiences of Caribbean families in London, and a series of semi-structured interviews and group discussions with practitioners from fields of relevance. The thematic analysis of the data collected puts forward conflicting interpretations, between practitioners and families, on three common themes: the meaning of being Caribbean, family bonds, and attitudes towards society. The discussion of these three themes, and divergent perspectives of participants, indicates that the key tenets of attachment theory (maternal sensitivity, quality of care and stability of attachment) are not representative of the experiences and perspectives presented by the families. Considering these results, I formulate a possible alternative theoretical framework to represent and theorise dynamics in Caribbean families: fluctuant attachment. Whilst this new framework, based on three themes identified by families as central to their experiences, wishes to limit stereotypical interpretations of family bonds; it fails to recognise children’s role in these relations. In my conclusion, following a Foucaldian deconstruction of attachment theory, I argue for the necessity for Childhood Studies to be a field of critical theory, based on children’s rights, and to develop new theoretical frameworks that recognise children as active agents.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Outside the dyad: An Ethnographic Journey Beyond Attachment, with African-Caribbean Families in London
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10041055
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