Mothering With Mental Illness: Using Constructivist Grounded Theory to Promote Critical Thinking in the Exploration of Gender, Identity, and Connectedness in Personal Recovery

Abstract

Constructivist research methodologies provide a framework for questioning and critiquing socio-political systems and structures that are often taken for granted. Using constructivist methodologies, factors such as gender, culture, power, and choice can be illuminated and examined as they pertain to the phenomena under investigation. One important consideration is the perspectives, experiences, attitudes, and values of the researcher, and how they may influence the research outcomes. In constructivist research, rather than striving to neutralize these characteristics in aspiring to achieve objectivity, these are instead overted and explored, the researcher consciously and critically reflecting upon themselves throughout the research process, to take account of the impact they themselves may have on the participants, the data, the analysis, and findings. This case study illustrates the way in which constructivist grounded theory was employed to explore the meaning and relevance of a conceptual framework relating to personal recovery in mental illness, for rural women who identified as mothers with mental illness. The research was situated within a social constructivist framework, informed by the social model of health and feminist theory. Throughout the research process, the researchers needed to examine their own assumptions, biases, and prejudices, considering how these may have been effecting decisions and interpretations made along the way. By taking a broad perspective of the social and cultural context in which research participants lived, and interrogating the meaning of this in relation to the data, a substantive theory was able to be developed that was situated within a particular social location.

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