How do women experience social support as adult learners? How interpretive interactionism found the answer

Year: 1994

Author: Williams, Eric

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This project investigated how women sole parents experienced the social support they received as full-time adult learners in a TAFE college. The research identified the women's personal, vocational, and academic goals set within the context of their personal biographies. Next, a critical examination was made of the problems the women faced in achieving their goals. This led to an analysis of the types of social support the women used in overcoming their problems. Interpretive interactionism was the qualitative research methodology chosen to investigate, analyse and interpret the women's experience of social support.

Unlike some other qualitative research approaches, interpretive interactionism does not seek to impose a conceptual, interpretive framework on the views or meanings provided by respondents in a research situation. Its mode of expression is that used by the participants in their everyday lives. Moreover, it places the lived experience and its interpretation within a social setting, so that the biography of the individual is connected to a wider social milieu.

The interpretive interactionist analysis resulted in uncovering what the motives, feelings, and beliefs were of the women as they experienced social support. Further, it showed how the lived experience of the women altered and shaped the essential features of the support they received.