Date of Award:

5-2000

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Gary Kieger

Committee

Gary Kieger

Committee

Ann Leffler

Committee

Anne M. Butler

Committee

Jon Morris

Committee

J. Freeman King

Committee

Pamela J. Riley

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.

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