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ERIC Number: ED538730
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 361
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2671-9029-1
How to Be a Widow: Performing Identity in Grief Narratives of an Online Community
McDonald-Kenworthy, Nancy
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
Through analysis of a qualitative online ethnography in an Internet text-based website message board database called "WidowNet" (, I studied online text conversations of adults who lost their life partners to death. This online autoethnographical research investigates how and why online widows/widowers perform their changed identity status after spousal death, and what the educational implications of an online self-help network are. This online ethnography project implements textual analysis of a registered Internet community of practice where members write to each other in the format of an asynchronous, text-based message forum. In 1993, a widower, who still owns and administers the database as his avocation, founded this non-profit online group now consisting of over 4,000 members. These online community members are registered with only one exclusive qualification: they lost a life partner to death. As a widowed "insider" myself, I analyzed the online conversations to see how this type of narrative developed meaning to the widowed who are constructing their new identities as widows/ers. Further, I determined how this particular online community functions as an informal learning community for the members. After I analyzed the WN narratives, I conducted follow-up member checks via instant messaging, email, or Internet chat rooms, and face-to-face group participant observations and follow-up focus group face-to-face interviews in get-togethers occurred in various locations around the US, as well. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A