Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Mark G. Borzi


This study examines how families co-construct joint accounts of shared experiences. Two foster families participated in the study, and were asked to recall information about the decision-making process of becoming a foster family. Through the use of narrative, each foster parent created an individual, detailed chronology of events that took place, including emotional reactions to events, types of decisions made, conversations held with each other as well as all outsiders, and any conflicts that arose during this process. Through conversational discourse, each family transformed individual experiences into one co-created story.

To understand how these individuals came to create such experiences, a social constructionist approach was used. Essentially, this approach enables readers to understand how families create their own social reality. A content analysis of both the individual and co-created narratives was utilized. A thorough analysis was completed of all data through the use of a traditional content analysis, which imposes categories onto the data, and through the CATPAC computer program, which allows categories to emerge from the data. Results revealed various gender differences in self-expressions, issues addressed, and starting and ending points of the narratives.

In summary, the approach taken in this study, offers readers a closer look into how individual beliefs and meanings are created through everyday interactions, and through the culture in which they belong. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of studying lived experiences, and through the use of narrative, enables the readers to comprehend and understand more in depth the experiences of the foster parenting process. Moreover, this study enables readers to better understand how families participate with one another to create a social reality separate from, yet intrinsically a part of, the culture in which they belong.