Beyond the script
: an Interpretative phenomenological analysis of autobiographical selves within pedagogies of change

  • Emma Maynard

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The revolving door of the social care system refers to the high numbers of families entering and re-entering the system for intervention, in respect of family dysfunction and children’s needs. Reflected in a succession of government policy agendas and local authority practice, a perennial issue regards the engagement of hard to reach families so as to enable enough positive change to re-set the disadvantage passed down to their children.
    This study sought to tell the parent’s story. Blending an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology with Critical Realism acknowledged the limits of interpreted reality for these families at the behest of a powerful system, mandated for the protection of children over and above the subjective reality of parents. This phenomena was examined through idiosyncratic, autobiographical accounts which chartered the lived experience of social care intervention, canonical norms, breach, and proscribed change, amidst the systemic dysfunction of the family.
    The study argues that that re-referral occurs due to re-emergence of systemic factors which have established dysfunctional patterns as normal to that family, and that attempts to proscribe change uproots self-identity, and family homeostasis provoking cognitive dissonance. It is argued that the impact of this is so unsettling that change might be performed and superficial, motivated by a need to be perceived as fitting within social norms to satisfy agencies and wider social discourse. In conclusion the study presents a new model for conceptualising resonant and performed change in context of these expectations, and argues that families require transformational learning in order to sustain change long term. The active engagement and co-construction of meaning enacted during interviews indicates that meaningful change might be best derived from authentic, non-threatening reflection, and that this may enable a reduction in the revolving door of re-referrals.
    Date of Award4 Jun 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Winchester
    SupervisorMary Scanlan (Supervisor), Janice de Sousa (Supervisor) & Amy Warhurst (Supervisor)


    • Families
    • Social care / early help
    • Psychology
    • Qualitative
    • Identity
    • Transformational change

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