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Photovoice Families: Lesbian Families Captured in Photographs

Brusoski, Melissa Ann (2007) Photovoice Families: Lesbian Families Captured in Photographs. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Based on a social-ecological model of health, this thesis discusses the results of an exploratory, qualitative study, Photovoice Families that employed Photovoice and photo-elicitation methodology to examine how 12 lesbian women in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area defined and configured their families. Participants were given disposable cameras and asked to photograph the people that they considered to be a part of their family. This study explores the structure of family within the lesbian community and the meaning attached to the roles of individuals in lesbian women's lives. Previous research suggests that many lesbian and gay people create "families of choice" out of a network of friends, co-workers and others because of a lack of acceptance or understanding from their families of origin. Other studies contradict these findings and reveal that lesbian women do remain connected with families of origin and that these people have important roles in their lives. Participants in this study chose parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, surrogate families, friends, their community and many other people to photograph and to call family. More important than the concepts of families of origin or families of choice was the idea that families take care of and protect each other, regardless of whether they are related by biology or friendship. This study suggests that the creation of family is an active process in which women designate people whose relationships support and affirm them. A social-ecological model of health views all aspects of a person's environment including social, cultural and family backgrounds as important factors that impact health. Support and influence from others, particularly close friends and family members, can have an impact on both a person's physical health as well as their sense of emotional well-being. By illuminating sources of social support in a population that is frequently marginalized and ignored, this study can make an important contribution to the design of public health programs and policies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brusoski, Melissa
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcAllister, Carolallister@pitt.eduALLISTER
Committee MemberGould, Deborahdgould@pitt.eduDGOULD
Committee MemberBurke, Jessicajgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Date: 26 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 23 April 2007
Approval Date: 26 June 2007
Submission Date: 16 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: family; lesbian
Other ID:, etd-04162007-105033
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:37
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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