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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reframing adolescent resistance to parents Ji, Daniel


This dissertation is about resistance among parents and adolescents. In Chapter One, I provide the historical context in which the resistance was conceptualized. I trace how resistance has been studied in the past to identify gaps in previous research that my first study begins to fill. I highlight what such gaps might mean for social workers who encounter challenging parent-adolescent conflicts in their practice. In Chapter Two, I describe how parents and adolescents resist one another during a conversation about the upcoming transition to high school. I used a variant of reflexive thematic analysis guided by social constructionist theory to develop four patterns of parent-adolescent resistance at the dyadic level of analysis. I proposed that resistance can be seen as a dyadic concept that may have implications for parent and adolescent identity development. In Chapter Three, I test whether training to see parent-adolescent conflict as two-sided and co-constructed is associated with how complexly social work students think about disputes. I used the patterns of resistance from my first study to develop a video vignette-based training tool to help social work students see resistance in parent-adolescent conflicts. I demonstrate that participants who received the training scored higher on complexity than students who did not when observing a parent-adolescent conflict. As a follow up, I compared participants in the training and no-training group on the words they used to describe a conflict scenario that they observed. As expected, participants who did not receive training used more words associated with interpersonal conflict, negative tone, and categorical thinking. I concluded that training to see parent-adolescent conflict as bilateral and co-constructed might be associated with complexity in social work students’ thinking. The final chapter describes how both studies come together to contextualize what the findings mean in terms of their novel contributions, limitations, and implications for researchers and practitioners. Overall, this dissertation advances resistance research through a dyadic conceptualization of the construct to investigate parent-adolescent micro-processes. This research also demonstrates the usefulness of complexity to analyze how social workers view parent-adolescent conflict situations and how its promotion may help to protect against biases in decision-making.

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