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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultural foundations of personal meaning : their loss and recovery More, Janet May Derrick


This study investigated what occurs in an individual's life when their culture is changed or irretrievably lost; and it investigated how an individual then regains personal meaning during a time of cultural loss and change. Peter Marris' innovative Theory of Loss and Change was used as the theoretical basis for the study. This theory states that a grief-like reformulation process occurs for individuals who experience any irretrievable loss of culture. The Native Indian cultures of British Columbia were used as the cultural foundation. Three Native Indian elders were interviewed and their life histories recorded (Bertaux, 1981). The data collected was then used as multiple case studies and analyzed according to Yin (1984) and Stake (1980). Cross-matching of patterns of loss and change, and patterns of recovery of personal meaning revealed six primary forms of loss and change in the elder's lives, and five primary characteristics of recovery of personal meaning. Secondary forms and characteristics in each area were identified as well. Marris' Theory of Loss and Change was supported. It was also expanded to include the Native Indian cultures of British Columbia. In addition, the emotional elements of the reformulation process were specified. The outcome of the study was a cognitive framework useful in understanding the Native Indian cultures in British Columbia and the personal conflicts of Native Indian individuals.

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