Date of Award:

2000

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Gary Kieger

Abstract

This study examined the effects of family and educational background factors on three dimensions of social identity among 35 deaf and hard-of-hearing respondents in Utah. Three dimensions of social identity-were distinguished: self-definition (i.e., the degree to which a respondent defined himself or herself as deaf), self-evaluation (i.e., the degree to which a respondent attached value and emotional significance to identifying himself or herself as deaf), and group introjection (i.e., the degree of commitment, belonging, and loyalty a respondent attached to membership in the Deaf community). Semi-structured, videotaped interviews were conducted with 35 deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in Utah. Respondents were recruited via snowball sampling techniques. The results of the qualitative data analysis showed that the respondents identified themselves as: (a) non-deaf (i.e., little identification with a Deaf identity or with the Deaf community), (b) marginalized (i.e., identifying with neither a hearing identity nor with a Deaf identity), and (c) big "D" Deaf (i.e., strong identification with a Deaf identity and the Deaf community). Strong family support, for example, family members who used sign language, was associated with strong self-identification as Deaf, positive self-evaluation, and strong group introjection. Similarly, supportive educational experiences, for example, attendance at a residential school for deaf students, were associated with strong self-identification as Deaf, positive self-evaluation, and strong group introjection. Policy implications regarding parent education, school teacher in-service training, and medIcal services were discussed.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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