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Title page for ETD etd-12062004-211419


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Westphal, Lori Lisabeth
URN etd-12062004-211419
Title Cancer Support Groups as Subcultural Phenomena
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Peggy Thoits, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Gary Jensen, Ph.D. Committee Member
Karen Campbell, Ph.D. Committee Member
Kenneth Wallston, Ph.D. Committee Member
Walter Gove, Ph.D. Committee Member
Keywords
  • coping assistance
  • subculture
  • cancer
  • support groups
Date of Defense 2004-07-15
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
In this dissertation, I argue that cancer support groups may be usefully reconceptualized as subcultures with three distinct characteristics: ideology, norms and coping assistance. Ideology offers participants an alternative set of beliefs about cancer based on personal experience and intuitive understanding. Norms outline the range of suitable thoughts, feelings and behaviors for the specific situation as defined by the ideology. Together ideology and norms influence the types and extent of coping assistance offered by the groups to participants in need of support.

I observed six different cancer support groups over the course of two years in order to document supportive transactions as they unfolded organically. By observing coping assistance in a naturalistic setting, I was able to focus on the normative and ideological influences on the types of supportive strategies offered by the groups rarely studied before.

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