Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parent-Adolescent Storytelling in Canadian-Arabic Immigrant Families (Part 2): A Narrative Analysis of Adolescents' Stories Told to Parents

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Parent-Adolescent Storytelling in Canadian-Arabic Immigrant Families (Part 2): A Narrative Analysis of Adolescents' Stories Told to Parents

Article excerpt

This paper is the second of two papers in which we present the results of our qualitative analysis of interviews inviting Arabic-Canadian immigrant adolescents and parents to reflect on the stories they tell each other in the context of everyday family life. This study extends understanding of intergenerational storytelling between parents and adolescents; provides a window on meaning-making and relationship processes as part of the day-to-day interactions that comprise family life; and attends particularly to the family life experience of immigrant parents and adolescents.

The first paper (Ashbourne & Baobaid, 2014) provides an initial conceptualization of intergenerational storytelling during adolescence in immigrant families--substantive theory we generated using Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) from a constructivist orientation (Charmaz, 2006) to analyse interview data with both parents and adolescents (see figure 1). In this paper, we describe Narrative Analysis (NA) we conducted as a second and complementary phase to the GTM analysis of interview data, focusing on the interviews conducted with adolescent participants. The NA of stories told by adolescents during these interviews in response to a request to "tell me (interviewer) a story that you have told your parent in the past couple of weeks--tell it to me as if I was your parent" augments the conceptualization of intergenerational storytelling by providing a more finely tuned analysis of the content of stories and how they are told. NA provides evidence of the narratives and "voices" that are incorporated into the stories these adolescents tell their parents, with potential links to broader cultural narratives.

This local study has global significance in a context of global migration and within the substantive area of family relationships, specifically adolescent-parent relationships, communication, interactions, and meaning-making. In this study, we pay specific attention to the experiences of Arabic migrant families whose family life occurs against the backdrop of dominant cultural discourses and norms that may differ significantly from their culture of origin and/or family values. In addition, the current study extends methodological considerations of how multiple qualitative analytic methods may inform and augment results of qualitative studies. The intended audience for this paper is family and social science researchers, as well as qualitative researchers interested in the complementary use of GTM and NA.


This study is situated within a social constructionist theoretical perspective. We view parent-adolescent relationships as dialogic (Bakhtin, 1986) in reference to the joint construction of meaning by listener and speaker, the emergent nature of meaning in the context of parent-adolescent interactions and conversations, and the presence of push-pull tensions that influence both meaning-making and relational processes (Baxter, 2004; Ashbourne, 2009). A social constructionist perspective also premises the influences of broader social discourses, such as those associated with the dominant surrounding cultural context or with a family/local culture, on meaning-making (Ammerman, 2003; Few, 2007; Gergen, 1994; Hammack, 2008).

For migrating families, the process of acculturation (understood here as adaptation to the family culture or surrounding culture within which the family is embedded) can also be understood as dialogically and relationally constituted (Tardif-Williams & Fisher, 2009). A dialogic, multivoiced understanding of self, culture and how they are intertwined directs attention to points of contact such as those associated with global migration (Hermans, 2001), where "moving cultures where here and there, past and present, country-of-origin and hostland, self and other are constantly being negotiated with each other" (Bhatia & Ram, 2001, p.15). In addition to each other, individuals also engage with and deviate from "master narratives" or stories of collective identity (Hammack, 2008). …

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