Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorAitken, Robert
dc.contributor.advisorFerguson, Shelagh
dc.contributor.authorEdirisingha, Prabash
dc.identifier.citationEdirisingha, P. (2016). Setting up Home:Identity Interplay and Consumption in New Family Households (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis explores identity interplay and negotiation during new family formation by understanding the process of identity re-formation that individuals and their families go through during new family formation. It focuses primarily on the ways in which new families use their material possessions to understand each other, re-configure their individual identities, whilst simultaneously developing a shared family identity. In so doing this study establishes four research objectives. Firstly, the research aims to understand the role of consumption in new family identity formation. Secondly, the research explores the role of ambiguity during role transitions by adopting ambiguity as a useful framework to understand the identity interplay and negotiation during new family formation. Thirdly, the thesis explores the role of sharing during new family formation, especially in negotiating important aspects of the extended self. Finally, the research aims to further understand the role of possessions including material objects, embodied practices, loved people, and abstract thoughts in negotiating new family identity. A large part of new family identity negotiation and re-formation takes place in the privacy of our homes, predominantly during mundane, everyday family life. Especially, the transition to new family takes place over a long period and involves dyadic interactions between individuals and their new extended families. Consequently, this research adopts an interpretive research approach to capture fluid, multi-layered, and culturally interpreted meanings that underpin new family identity negotiation processes. The initial research objectives are further refined and developed throughout the hermeneutic data collection and interpretation building process. In addition, the multi-method and adaptive ethnographic research process enables capturing of personal and sensitive meanings in mundane family practices such as during everyday meal preparation and consumption. The two-staged process of ethnographic data collection combines semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observations, informal sessions, Facebook interactions, and various other elicitations tasks in order to generate rich and multiple perspectives of/in action relating to new family identity formation. The findings from this research provide a framework to understand the process of new family identity formation that is premised upon negotiating ambiguity. Findings also establish the importance of sharing in the process of negotiating ambiguity. As individuals enter the transition to new family, they bring naïve expectations in terms of their individual self as well as their shared family identity. Naïve expectations provide antecedents to ambiguity and are realised and experienced during the subsequent stage as new families begin to form their shared family identity. This enables individuals to make important meanings in their identities more explicit to each other and begin to negotiate and re-formulate these meanings in relation to each other and their new family identity. Findings suggest that negotiating ambiguity is underpinned by learning to share. New families learn to share previously individually owned possessions by: 1) outlining, 2) abandoning, 3) adopting, and 4) re-formulating meanings in their important possessions. Consequently, negotiating ambiguity by learning to share enables new families to understand each other and adapt to new role identities by developing more matured expectations. It makes their relationship more stable and comfortable for both individuals. This research makes four contributions to existing literature in Consumer Culture Theory. Firstly, it provides an important methodological contribution, specifically to the tradition of ethnographic research. It emphasises the importance of adapting ethnographic research by integrating multiple research methods to gain informants’ trust in order to gain access, sustain immersion, and develop rich emic/etic perspectives in complex situations. Secondly, the research provides three important theoretical contributions, namely in the areas of sharing, extended self, and role transitions. The findings discuss the ways in which sharing could facilitate negotiation of identity and reformation of consumption practices during role transitions. It introduces a process of learning to share and explains the multiple ways in which sharing becomes central to the perpetuation of self and the formation of shared extended self. The research findings contribute to current understanding of extended self by discussing the ways in which both material as well as non-material possessions are integrated to form the layers of extended self during role transitions. Accordingly, the research findings discuss the ways in which aspects of individual extended self are re-negotiated in the shared family layer and how it facilitates the formation of a shared extended self in new families. This thesis also contributes to current literature on role transitions. Drawing from extant literature and findings from the longitudinal ethnographic research, the thesis introduces Transformative Ambiguity, the process of negotiating ambiguity and adopts it as a useful framework to understand the complex interplay and re-formation of identities during role transitions. The process of negotiating ambiguity demonstrates the ways in which ambiguity is produced, realised, and negotiated during role transitions, particularly by learning to share.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectFamily Identity
dc.subjectIdentity Formation
dc.subjectAdaptive Ethnography
dc.subjectSri Lanka
dc.titleSetting up Home:Identity Interplay and Consumption in New Family Households
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
 Find in your library

Files in this item


There are no files associated with this item.

This item is not available in full-text via OUR Archive.

If you would like to read this item, please apply for an inter-library loan from the University of Otago via your local library.

If you are the author of this item, please contact us if you wish to discuss making the full text publicly available.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record