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The family planning communication of voluntarily child -free couples

Wesley T Durham, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Although the phenomenon of voluntary childlessness has garnered increased attention from researchers in a number of disciplines over the past twenty years (Connidis & McMullin, 1996; Letherby, 1998; Morrell, 1993; Park, 2002), little is known about the interaction processes that comprise the family planning of these couples that result in a child-free decision. In the present study, the researcher addressed gaps in the current research on voluntarily child-free couples incorporating Communication Privacy Management (Petronio, 2002) as the theoretical framework. Adopting the interpretive paradigm in answer to three research question, the researcher described the intra-dyadic processes that comprised the family planning of the participants, the rules-based system that participants used when making choices about revealing (or concealing) their child-free decision to social network members, and the criteria and metaphors the participants used to perceive themselves as families. ^ The researcher conducted 32 retrospective, turning point interviews with members of voluntarily child-free couples that produced 32 RIT graphs (Surra, 1987) and 1047 pages of transcripts. These RIT graphs and transcripts served as the data for the present study. Data were analyzed using Charmaz's (1995) grounded theory analytic technique, whereby the researcher coded the data initially using in vivo codes, and then subsequently using focused codes. Because the focused codes that were developed from the initial stages of data analysis so closely resembled the concepts within Communication Privacy Management (Petronio, 2002), the researcher completed a final round of data analysis using this theory's concepts as sensitizing concepts. ^ First, from the analysis of data, the researcher developed four family planning trajectories that illustrate the unique pathways that voluntarily child-free couples take to interact and reach a family planning outcome. Second, the researcher described the rules-based system used by the participants in the present study when making disclosure choices about communicating the child-free decision to members of their social network. Last, the researcher presents an argument for a more inclusive, communication-based definition of the family using voluntarily child-free couples as the exemplar. ^

Subject Area

Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Durham, Wesley T, "The family planning communication of voluntarily child -free couples" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3152606.