Marked body surface: lived experiences of women with non-facial scars

Kofman, L 2013, Marked body surface: lived experiences of women with non-facial scars, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Marked body surface: lived experiences of women with non-facial scars
Author(s) Kofman, L
Year 2013
Abstract This exploratory study examines the lived experiences of women with non-facial scars. The number of people living with scars is significant. In contemporary western culture scars are seen as disfigurements and having them can result in negative consequences for their bearers. However, while the psychosocial impact of facial scars have attracted some research interest, non-facial scars as a unit of analysis have rarely been investigated.

This study uses a mixed methods design that is predominantly qualitative and supplemented by quantitative measures where appropriate. It is underpinned by the constructivist grounded theory as developed by Kathy Charmaz. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirty women with non-facial scars. The interviews were supplemented with other data collection methods: creative methods involving photography and writing, and two ordinal scales.

The main aim of this study was an open exploration of women’s experiences of their scars, which will also be reflective of the context in which participants live and the social processes involved in these experiences The substantive theory that emerged conceptualises non-facial scars as marks that can be disfiguring, can be socially interpreted as shedding light on their bearers’ life stories and personalities, and can also contain personal meanings for their bearers, such as memories and being identity markers. Findings also show that the experiences of non-facial scars can be viewed as complex and ambivalent. Non-facial scars can have a profoundly positive and/or negative impact on women’s identities, thoughts, emotions, social interactions and private behaviour. They can adversely affect women’s life choices and, to some extent, their life chances. However, women can also be creative at how they interpret, manage and utilise these bodily features which culturally are considered to be disfiguring.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) scars
body image
lived experiences
grounded theory
qualitative research
creative methods
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Created: Fri, 27 Jun 2014, 15:57:50 EST by Lynne Johns
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