Root-values and the expression of values in personal accounts

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Root-values and the expression of values in personal accounts
Coyote, David Richter
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vi, 107 leaves : ; 29 cm.


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Values ( lcsh )
Peak experiences ( lcsh )
Meaning (Psychology) ( lcsh )
Meaning (Psychology) ( fast )
Peak experiences ( fast )
Values ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado at Denver, 1994.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 104-107).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Communication & Theatre.
Statement of Responsibility:
by David Richter Coyote.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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32714304 ( OCLC )


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ROOT-VALUES AND THE EXPRESSION OF VALUES IN PERSONAL ACCOUNTS by David Richter Coyote B. A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 1985 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Communication & Theatre 1994 @


This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by David Richter Coyote has been approved for the Graduate School Michael Monsour Samuel A. Betty


Coyote, David Richter (M.A.; Communication & Theatre) Root-values and the Expression of Values in Personal Accounts Thesis directed by Professor Jon A. Winterton ABSTRACT This study explored the expression of root-values and Rokeach-values in the personal.accounts of seven participants. The participants stories were solicited in response to a query of the most important thing that happened in their lives. The study investigated the expressions of root-values and Rokeach-values and examined the utility of using a narrative method for this kind of research. The results suggest that root-values and Rokeach-values are expressed in personal accounts of important personal experiences. The method is effective for discovery of rootvalue expression but is inefficient for Rokeach-values. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Jon A. Winterton iii


CHAPTER 1. 2. 3. 4. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE METHOD .............................. 1 7 13 The Presentation . . . . . . . . . . . 22 The Instrument . . . . . . . . . . . 24 The Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . 25 The Research Questions . . . . . . . . 27 Research Question One Research Question Two Research Question Three THE FINDINGS Root-Values, RQl .................... Truth and Falseness ............... Relationship and Separateness Other Root-values ............... RokeachValues, RQ2 .................. Honesty ...................... Family Security . . . . . . . . . IV 27 28 28 30 34 34 38 44 46 46 47


4. THE FINDINGS (cont.) APPENDIX True Friendship A Sense of Accomplishment & Happiness Meaningfulness of the Method, RQ3 . . . . . Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cntique .......................... Strengths and Weaknesses . . . . . . Implications for Future Research . . . . 47 48 48 50 52 52 54 A. THE ROKEACH VALUES . . . . . . . . . . 56 B. THE ACCOUNTS . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 REFERENCES .......... 104 v


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge the help and support of the faculty and staff of the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado at Denver. I have special appreciation for my advisor, Jon Winterton, and my committee, Mike Monsour and Sam Betty. Thefr encouragement, their enthusiasm, and their integrity and willingness to support this project is greatly appreciated. I would also like to acknowledge Myra Bookman who loaned me copy of the handbook for the Harvard Project and who first gave me encouragement to attempt a project using narrative method. VI


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This thesis will investigate the expression of values as revealed in the personal accounts of the participants and explore .the utility of employing an interpretation of the accounts for this kind of research. To these ends, the study will explore the values expressed by the participants in terms of the constructs of root-values and Rokeach-:-values which appear to be important to the study's participants through interpretation of the accounts given in response to a query about the most important thing in their life. The results of the interpretation will be used to assess the utility of the method. In this way, it is hoped that the results of the study will contribute to the body of knowledge in the areas of value theory, value expression, and the meaningfulness of values in everyday lives. There is a long tradition of interest in values in the social and behavioral sciences, the liberal arts, and in communication. John Dewey (1939) wrote The Theory of Valuation to expand the philosophical concept of value versus valuation. His selected bibliography includes references to the work of G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, and John Reid. L. L. Thurstone's (1959) The Measurement of Values, was a collection of his work in the area of attitudes and values and established the study of values in the domain of behavioral 1


psychology. Walter Fisher (1987) expresses the importance of value in his, Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason. Value and Action. In recent decades the major contributor to the study of values has been Milton Rokeach. Rokeach (1973) credits A. 0. Lovejoy for his philosophical influence, Robin Williams for the psychological influence and Clyde Kluckholn for the anthropological influence which inspired him to write The Nature of Human Values. Clearly, Rokeach has made the most prolific individual contribution to the study of values following the publication of Beliefs. Attitudes and Values (1968a), first published in 1960. Rokeach published The Nature of Human Values in 1973. The volume of research, discussion and work by other scholars who have depended on, employed, tested or critiqued the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS) is testimony to his contribution. Rokeach (1973, 1968a) defmes a value as a belief as distinct from an attitude or an opinion. "An attitude differs from a value in that an attitude refers to an organization of several beliefs around a specific object or situation" (Rokeach, 1968b, 1968a, cited in Rokeach, 1973, p. 18). -A value as he defines it is also a preference but the emphasis is on value as belief insofar as a value is "a prescriptive or proscriptive" to action (Rokeach, 1973, p. 7). A value is a preference to the extent that values within a value system can be organized hierarchically (Rokeach, 1968b, p. 124). 2


Rokeach (1973) observed in his clarification of the differences between values, attitudes, needs and so on, that values as he has defined them are: a) desirable behaviors or behavioral end states and, b) standards by which things can be measured. A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence. A value system is an enduring organization of beliefs concerning preferable modes of conduct or end-states. of existence along a continuum of relative importance. (p. 5, emphasis in the original) In Beliefs. Attitudes. and Values Rokeach (1968a) said, I consider a value to be a type of belief, centrally located within one's total belief system, about how one ought or ought not to behave, or about some end-state of existence worth or not worth attaining. (p. 124) Rokeach (1968a) also suggests that, "a value is seen to be a disposition of a person just like an attitude, but more basic than an attiq.Ide, often underlying it" (p. 124.). To clarify the relation of value to attitude and belief he adds, An adult probably has tens or hundreds of thousands of beliefs, thousands of attitudes, but only dozens of values. A value system is a hierarchical organization--a rank ordering--of ideals or values in terms of importance. (p. 124, emphasis in the original) These kinds of definitions are helpful for quantifying values for the kind of research Rokeach and others have pursued. They are presented here because they help focus the current research endeavor and clarify the historical arena and foundations of research into values. 3


Underpinning each of the earlier research designs and the defmitions of values within them is a set of root-values. Root-values, which may also be called meta-values, are those constructs which underscore and give meaning to the values which in turn form the basis for choices, decisions, actions and values operant in everyday life. Root-values are neither end-states nor behaviors. A root-value is the smallest meaningful construct supporting a value. Root-values, or meta-values, are those constructs which are intuitively known and the knowledge of which is essential to articulating values. Root-values are known intuitively insofar as the knowledge is acquired slowly and throughout the lifetime from family, culture, society and experience without explicit definition. Examples of root-values are truth, goodness, beauty. We can ask what is the good, the true or the beautiful but within a given cultural setting or social milieu a precise value definition may be different from another. At the same time, truth, goodness or beauty are constructs which in themselves transcend cultural or social boundaries. As root-values they are essential to defming what is true good or beautiful and at the s'ame time they are beyond any operational definition which attempts to clarify them beyond a given specific contextual arena. Root-values are meaningful as a construct only in relation to their opposite and in this context exist always in tension with their opposite. Truth is meaningful only in relation to prospect of falsehood, good in relation to evil and so on. In this sense, death is a value as much as is life. 4


Truth, goodness and beauty, as examples of root-values are not inherently hierarchical. While an individual, society or culture may rank one root-value over another, the hierarchical arrangement of root-values is subject to the situation or purpose for establishing priority. In this context, root-values form a web of constructs which are at the core of any other definition or understanding of value, sets of values and value systems. If we can find evidence of root-values in human experience and discourse, then we can supplement our understanding of values to include root-values as the constructS which give meaning to values, choice and action. I define root-values as those constructs which give meaning through their opposing tension of opposites to values and value systems and which in turn inform our choices, actions and desires. For the .simple reason of the difficulty of operationally defining values, it continues to be important to discover the meaning of values in the lives of Individuals as they are expressed in the language of the individual. This is part of the purpose of this thesis. It seems at times that almost every concern of contemporary dialogue has some value connotation. Discourse concerning human values, educational values, and family values suggest that scholars and researchers once again pick up the task of attempting to clarify what it is that we call important--what we value. Because the consensus of opinion is that values are learned or otherwise acquired during the course of human experience and 5


development it is important to investigate how values are expressed in our everyday experience. 6


CHAPTER2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE A survey of the literature on values included Communication Abstracts, Psychological Abstracts, ERIC flies and electronic media. Most of the articles and books were repeated in the sources for the literature review. The ERIC documents tended to focus on communication skill as valuable and are not cited here. The review reveals that a significant portion of research conceining values in the last .few decades has tested Rokeach's work. Examples include "Value Segmentation" (Kamakura & Mazon, 1991), "Personal Values of the Heavy user of Mass Media" (Becker & Conner, 1981), "The Impact of Value and Self esteem Messages in Persuasion" (Spillman, 1979), and "Measuring Values Through Public Participation" (Van Leuver, 1980). A noteworthy segment of the research reported in the Communication Abstracts has studied the affects or influence of mass media on public values, public opinion, or attitudes and values. The largest of these studies was The Great American Values Test (Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach & Grube, 1984). This impressive study examined the effect of the television medium on values of people who saw the program which was part of the study. Other works include 7


such titles as, Video Icons and Values (Olson, 1992) and, "Values in Prime-time Television" (Selnow, 1990). One study looks at the values of communication students in colleges and universities (Parson, 1989). Two articles considered ethical concerns (Viall, 1992; Bennett, 1985). There are other s\rrvey instruments such as the Personal Values Survey developed by L. V. Gordon. ( 1967, dted in Zunker, 1990). The initial work of Allport, Vernon and Lindzey (1960) preceded Rokeach and was part of the body of work which led to his own. The work done in this vein has supported Rokeach's fmdings and the survey method. One study, of one hundred single black American mothers; considered the transmission of values across three generations. In this study the researchers inquired of the transmissions of values via proverbs within the families .of the participants using structured interviews (Page and Washington, 1986). All of this body of research has two things in common. First, it is by design quantitative research. The largest portion employ standardized survey methods. There are a few which have employed content analysis of public documents or broadcasts. All are mathematical models after the reduction of the data and employ commonly accepted statistical methods. Secondly, all of the research concerning values can be entered under the rubric of human behavior with assumptions attendant from the behavioral school 8


of psychology and social learning theory. As such, the research participants are passive with respect to the language of values employed in the research instruments much the same as the theoretical disciplines assume that humans are essentially passive to the acquisition of values. The extent to which participants contribute to the research findings is limited to each individual's personal reflections in attempting to respond to the research questions. From within this category, the transmission, communication, transition, alteration, modification, maintenance of and even selection of a value or set or system of values is a function of the environment, the media, the culture or public and/or private institutions. The subjects of the earlier studies are in fact passive objects of investigation. The degree of interaction between researchers and subjects of research was minimized by design. What interaction was present in the research on the part of the researcher or interviewer, and there is always some, was considered to be amply corrected for in the design aild the method. In this way, the. traditional goal of maintaining researcher. objectivity or neutrality was considered to have been satisfactory. Generally speaking, all areas of reported research tended to fall into one of the categories mentioned. Perhaps because research designed under this rubric is so agreeable to statistical manipulation and because the mathematical elegance of such designs is considered the ideal of scholarly research, recent value research has been limited 9


to designs defining values patterned after Rokeach. Rokeach's model includes 18 terminal values (end states) and 18 instrumental values (behaviors, means to ends) (Rokeach, 1973). To their credit, it is noteworthy that Rokeach and those who have built upon his work (Kamakura and Mazzon, 1991; Mueller and Laquerre, 1991) have pursued the investigation of values in a natural setting. That is they have made every effort to understand and describe human experience of values as found in every-day common-place experience as opposed to laboratory or clinical tests. To this extent they have extended their work well beyond the traditional limitations of behavioral investigations. In this line of research, there is limited reference to .cognitive theories, but the extrapolation of more recent theoretical revisions employing explorations of text, narrative or personal accounts has not been included in values research. The point at which narrative and value does merge is in the narrative paradigm proposed by Walter Fisher ( 1987). In Human Communication as Narration (1987) Fisher suggests that humans are as much story tellers as rational beings. In the opening comments he asks, "How do people come to believe and act on the basis of communicative experiences? What is the nature of reason and rationality in these experiences? What is the role of values in human decision making and action? How can reason and values be assessed?" (p. xi). Later, in his discussion of the story of Gilgamesh, he calls "truths" what here might be 10


defmed as root-values (p. 78). Fisher's (1987) book is probably closer than any other work already in print to the heart and soul of the present study. To a degree, the present study is focused on the last two of Fisher's questions stated above but in a marginally different context. What is the role. of value in the expression of human experience? That is, what role do values play in the stories people tell about their lives? And how can values be assessed? This thesis proposes that values can be assessed through an interpretation of narrative, that is, through the interpretation of personal accounts. In communication research, accounts have frequently been defined in terms of function (Buttny, 1987). In this context an account is either an excuse or a justification in relation to a problematic situation (Buttny, 1987; Morris and Coursey, 1989; Cupach and Metts, 1986). That is, a person gives an account to explain, excuse or justify something that has happened. Harvey, Weber and Orbuch (1990) describe an account as being, "like a story that contains a rich array of plots, characters and patterns of interaction" (p. 4). They proceed to invoke a dictionary denotation (Random House Dictionary, 1978, cited in Harvey, et al., 1990) "'1. a description of events or facts. 2. an explanatory statement"' (p. 4). These authors observe that typically a narrative is an oral story telling but there is little difference between an account as they use the term and a narrative. "To the extent that the concept of narrative may be broadened to encompass other forms of expression and even mental 11 ------------


representation, we do not believe that the ideas of account and narrative need to be differentiated in any formal sense" (Harvey, et al., 1990, p. 78). Research employing accounts has included the areas of relationship, personal stress and organizational communication. Relationship studies include Cupach and Metts (1986) and Baxter (1992). Stress includes Harvey et al., (1990) and Judith Herman (1992). Organizational communiCation includes the work of Morris and Coursey, (1989) and Tompkins and Cheney, (1983, cited in Buttny, 1987). In the present study, the use of the term account will be interchangeable with the term narrative. The most simple definition will apply: an account is the story a person tells to make or express meaning from personal experience. The account may be based on actual experience and have been told many times. An account may be told for the first time during the course of the interview for this project. An account may be a mental representation employed by the participant to make sense of a life circumstance and articulated to another (the researcher) for the first time. In any or all of these instances the story of the participant will be called an account. From this broad body of work, the present study will inquire of the expression of value in.people's experience and will examine the utility of interpreting personal accounts for these expressions. 12


CHAPTER 3 METHOD If we are to attempt to inquire of the identification and communication of values and discover new insights complimentary to and distinct from my predecesSors, it is necessary to employ a method different from theirs. The technique employed for this thesis is the open-ended research interview. Mishler (1986) has observed that scholarly interest in the interview as a research tool can be dated as early as 1935 (p. 1). This of course, only dates the use of the interview as a scholarly question about research and research method. Sigmund Freud, Joseph Breuer and Pierre Janet used the interview process for their research into hysteria and in some instances the interviews lasted several hours (Herman, 1992). The outcome of Freud's work has since become accepted as foundational to modem psychology. The interviews conducted in the psychotherapeutic process were of the open-ended style insofar as the therapist and the patient simply engaged in a. dialogue. which began with an open-ended question which led over time to the therapist's understandmg and interpretation of the meaning of the analysand's story. In this historical context it can be seen that the interview process has been used for research purposes since the late nineteenth century. 13


In the more recent period of research discussed by Mishler the method of research interviewing has been more formally structured and is most often referred to as the standardized interview. This method, often combined with surveys, is common in communication research such as that by Ball-Rokeach et al. (1984) and Page and Washington (1986). In this method there is a set of predetermined questions, a schedule of training of the interviewers, forms, check-lists and so forth, which are designed to remove the researcher as far as possible from the research subjects (Mishler, 1986). There are several arguably good reasons for this design as there are several substantial strengths in the structured method. A structured interview provides a body of data which is readily quantified using standard statistical methods. Furthenitore, the outcomes of such investigations can be manipulated to test for various other factors not included in the original study. The data can be duplicated in other studies and the reliability of the method is well established. A diversity of studies can be submitted to meta-analysis for broader theoretical investigations. On the other hand, unstructured interviews provide an opportunity for the researcher to become personally involved in the dialogue of account making and the process of account taking. When a particular construct comes in question, the researcher is in a unique position to ask for clarification from the research 14


participant. This can be most helpful when the research centers on constructs as ambiguous as values. For most of this century it has been held by scholars and academics that research should be "objective." That is, that the research should be controlled as much as possible so as to reduce interviewer-related error. Fowler and Mangione (1990) have attempted to identify those areas where standardized research interviews are applied and have suggested that standardized methods are not always the best method although they favor standardized methods over narrative methods (p. 19) The basic assumption in this perspective is that research fmdings are more or less accurate because of interviewer error or other contextual factor. Rather than incorporate the contextual attributes of the interview process, researchers "controlled" them out of the design. In the traditional view, standardized methods are expected to produce more accurate data than narrative methods because standardized interviews typically restrict or limit the range of answers by respondents (Fowler and Mangione, 1990). To be sure, all of the techniques devised for standardized interviewing are predicated on the idea that there is some method for minimizing error in the interview process which will then enable interview data to be codified, quantified and analyzed to reveal the "truth" about whatever it is that is at the center of the research. 15


In 1947 the National Opinion Research Center undertook to study systematically the sources of error in research that depends upon interviewing as a method of data collection. The purposes of the study were (1) to determine and evaluate empirically factors that may operate within the interview to produce error in the data derived from it and (2) to test the amenability of these factors to methods of control designed to minimize their effects. (Hyman, 1954, p. vii) Hyman goes on to say a few paragraphs later, that the book, "has turned out to be a treatise on interviewing as a method of inquiry in the social sciences, with special attention to sources of error and their control" (Hyman, 1954, p. vii). The standardized interview is an attempt to apply the interview method as a method of science because the underlying belief is that "The methods of science. . are designed to minimized human biases and fallibility. . (Stacks and Hocking, 1992, p. 35). Thus it is believed that scientific method can fmd and correct for mistakes which other less scientific methods can not. The unstructured or open-ended approach has its own drawbacks. The "data" is less easily quantifiable thereby making. attempts for controlled duplication of the research ore difficult. Meta-analysis of interpretation of personal accounts could be a time-consuming The transcriptions of the interviews could be made available to other researchers under certain circumstances but the prosect of evaluating account transcripts could be overwhelming. For many studies, the open-ended approach is simply not the most efficient way to go. 16


All of these ideas are worthy of consideration when beginning any research project. The question that must be asked is, Is this the best way, or the only way to get at the information being sought? When the research is focused on hard data with known variables which lend themselves to manipulation for testing, traditional quantitative methods are surely the best way to go. When working with concepts and constructs which are less agreeable to manipulation or are even outside the domain of quantitative methods other than counting how many times they occur within a given study, then alternate methods may be the better choice. In order to get at the meanings people attach to values in a natural way, I have chosen a. qualitative method which will permit the research participants to describe what is important to them in their own words. In addition, the interpretive method proposed for this study will enable the work to be open to non-socially desirable values should they occur in the accounts. It is hoped that in this way we can gain some greater understanding of how values are meaningful in and how values conie into and operate within human experience. Mishler (1986) has argued that the traditional standardized interview is not necessarily the best approach for fmding meaning. He has suggested that it may be worthwhile attempt to clarify or even possibly to re-define just what method is most appropriate for what research objectives. In Research Interviewing, he writes, 17


[C]urrent views and practices of interviewing ... reflect a restricted conception of the interview process. This view obscures the essence of interviewing--that it is an occasion of two persons speaking to each other--and undercuts the potential and special contribution of interviewing for theoretical understanding of human action and experience. (p. vii) Mishler promotes an open-ended interview which promotes a narrative response from the research participants through interviewer/interviewee interaction, as opposed to closed or fixed-response surveys or standardized interview methods. Fowler and Mangione (1990) observe that the reason that one might prefer an open-ended narrative answer is that such responses, "do tell researchers more about what is going on in the mind of the respondent .... (p. 19). The drawback is that such responses, "do not provide information which is as amenable to quantitative analysis as do the closed-response answers" (Fowler and Mangione, 1990, p. 19}. At issue is the degree of focus and the degree of structure in the research exchange .. Traditional interview and survey methods clearly focus the investigation through the researcher's choices of language, presentation, setting and so forth. The.structure of the interview itself is typically predetermined so as to control as much as possible of the interview context for reasons already discussed. The present study purposely opens the structure, language and context of the interview to include the research subjects as active participants in the project. It is the intent, in part, to discover how people express value through 18


their own stories or personal accounts of what has been important in their life experiences. It is not the intent of this study to debate qualitative versus quantitative methodology. The present discussion is provided so that others may see the value of the process of deciding what method best fits a given research endeavor. For the purposes of the present study it is pertinent to ask, Which is preferable, to understand what is in -the mind and experience of the participants, or to have answers which are amenable to quantification? I submit that to understand how values are expressed in the personal accounts of the participants, to obtain some insight into how those values are meaningfully experienced is to enter the mind and life of the respondent in a meaningful and interpersonal way. A method which is interpersonal and engages the participant in relationship of discourse can best support the objectives of this research. There is growing support and application of the method as described by Mishler (1986) and proposed for the present work. Carol Gilligan (1982) and her team from the Harvard Project has successfully used the open-ended interview to write a powerful revision to Kohlberg' s theory of moral development. Lyn Mikel Brown and Carol Gilligan (1992) have written more on the application and revision of the interview method. In their book Meeting at the Crossroads, they describe the process through which they eventually gave up the more traditional interview method of structured standardized interviews in 19


favor of open-ended interactive interviews wherein the researchers entered into relationships with their participants during the course of a longitudinal study. The members of the research team came to consensus that a change to a more candidly interactive method could better provide insight into the subject of their work (Brown and Gilligan,). There is other support for the method as well. In an investigation of life satisfaction among elderly men, L. Eugene Thomas and Kim 0. Chambers (1989) surveyed one hundred elderly men using both standardized quantitative survey methods and an open-ended interview. The distribution of the men was fifty each English and Indian men. The standard methods revealed that all one hundred respondents. had similar life satisfaction. Interestingly, the open-ended interviews revealed a strong cultural difference. Thomas and Chambers found that, Even a superficial reading of the English and Indian protocols casts doubt on any interpretation that suggests. that their experience of subjective well-being is the same. From open-ended interviews it is clear that they live in different psychological and social worlds, with different values and concerns. (p. 287) Citing Mishler and others, Thomas and Chambers (1989) conclude that, "Perhaps it is time to .acknowledge that quantitative measures alone are not able to encompass the full breadth of these intensely subjective domains" (p. 288). It is arguable that from a quantitative point of view, there might have been a method for achieving the same outcomes from the appropriate instruments 20


geared to intercultural differences. Nonetheless, their conclusions are similar to those of the members of the Harvard Project led by Carol Gilligan (1982; Gilligan and Antanucci, 1988; Brown and Gilligan, 1992). During the course of their research at the Laurel School in Chicago, Brown and Gilligan (1992) and their team found that the standardized interviewing techniques were not capturing the meaning imparted in the interview process by their participants. [A]s we proceeded with our 'experiment' at Laurel, we began to sense that by staying with our method we were in danger of losing the girls. . What did it mean that our research design. . caused them to scramble for information, to join with those they could trust to tell them what to expect and how to prepare? What did it mean that our presence caused the girls to withdraw their thoughts and feelings ... ? (p. 12) Ultimately the team of researchers let go of their preconceptions about their research, its design, and about the knowledge they hoped to gain from their participants. Clearly we needed a different way of working and a method which did not interfere with our ability to listen to ourselves and to others but which enabled us to bring our knowledge as women and as psychologists into relationship with our work. (p. 15) What Brown and Gilligan are describing is precisely what Mishler (1986) has argued for in re-examining our approach to and opinion of interview methods which do not follow traditional practices. When researchers openly enter into a relationship of dialogue with a study's participants, a new level of rigor is required. This method requires that researchers be extremely conscious of the 21


processes in which they are engaged. It requires that the participants be made aware of the work at hand and that they willingly join in the discourse, enter into dialogue and as honestly as they are able, share their experience. It is not a case for less rigor but of more. This unstructured method can provide a rich mosaic of information. Still, the method lacks the controls of more traditional approaches and is limited in the degree of comparability. For the present work, the exchange of benefits of technique appear worth the effort. There is a naturill tendency for research subjects to assign a level of authority to researchers which covertly imbalances the power structure of the relationship. The researcher needs to be aware of this imbalance to the same or even a higher degree than in more structured and controlled research methods. In addition, the requirements for rigor extend to the description of the research which needs to accurately, intelligently and articulately interpret the fmdings. The researcher must be rigorous in describing the context of the interview, in letting the participants in on the research objectives and goals and must document the way in which the dialogue is opened and the situational context of the research. The Presentation In this thesis, the interviews are typically conducted at the home of the participant. In this informal setting it is hoped that the researcher can enjoin the 22


participant to tell .a story, or stories, which are descriptive of and meaningful to the participant as they relate their account of the most important thing which has happened in their life. In each instance the participant is given a general description of the purpose of the interview at the time of setting an appointment. The instrument for this thesis is the question: Can you tell me the story of the most important thing that has happened in your life? The participant is informed of this question at the time of making the appointment for the interview. At the time of the interview, the participant is given a more detailed explanation of the research objectives. The explanation is informal in that there is no script for the introduction of the instrument. Instead, it is explained .that this is research for a master's thesis investigating the communication of values. Any questions the participant has concerning the project and the interview process are answered until the respondent feels comfortable with the situation. Should the participant be uncomfortable with the opening question, it is made clear that the respondent's definition of "important" or "thing" is perfectly adequate. Because it is anticipated that the participants will try to help the process by telling what they think is wanted in the research, it is stressed that the project objectives are to discover how the participant perceives what is important, that it is their words and experiences which are being sought. 23


Supplemental questions such as, How did you know this was important? or How did you come to know this was important? will be used as needed in the dialogue process. A specific set of interview questions has not been designed as it is believed that the most important aspect of the interview process is to be intentionally and interactively engaged in dialogue with the participant. The Instrument The instrument for this thesis will be: Can you tell me the story of the most important thing that has happened in your life? The invitation to tell a story is intentional. It gives permission to the participant to make an. extended response. as well as letting the respondent know that a story or personal account of "the most important thing" is expected. The "most important thing" is intentionally vague in an effort to let the respondent decide what it is that is most important in his or her life. The span of a lifetime is intentional so that the question may be applied in future research which could investigate the differences of "important things" among age groups. Supplemental or probing questions will be used as needed, based on the response and the process of joint meaning-making during the course of each interview. It is expected that in some cases the interviewer will need to probe for how the participant came to know that something was important. 24


The Interpretation The interviews will be tape-recorded and transcribed by the researcher. The transcription will be carefully checked for an accurate rendering of the dialogue of the interview. It is important to note that because of the application of this method, the part of the study which is concerned with the expression of Rokeach-values and root-values is a verbal study. There is no mechanism for consideration of non verbal or paralinguistic expressions or actions. This raises the question of what might be lost in the interpretation. Because the constructs of root-values and Rokeach-values are verbal in nature, it is anticipated that there will be a minimal loss of context. It is impossible at this juncture to estimate the effect of the loss of the non-verbal portion of the interview as an effect. However, considering the verbal nature of narrative expression it is anticipated that the effect will not be noticeable to the reader of this study. To clarify the implications of the effect of non-verbal on the expression of a root-value or Rokeach value in an account consider the root value of truth, which corresponds with the Rokeach value of honesty. In the telling of the story, the participant may relate an experience where another person "told the truth." It is not possible from the transcript of the narration to evaluate wliat might be learned form the non-verbal components of the communication, such as might indicate the strength of feeling with which the 25


speaker holds toward the value of truth. If the study included investigation of the personal non-verbal affects of an account making, this would be an important consideration. But that is not in the range of the method of this thesis. As the method of narrative interpretation is applied in this study, the absence of inquiry of non-verbal components should not affect the findings. The transcriptions will be reviewed against the tape recording to fmd references to values and root-values. It is anticipated that the participants will use some literal descriptions as well as metaphors in their accounts. Baxter (1992) has investigated root metaphors in personal aGcounts. Citing Black (1992) and Ortony (1990) she writes, "[M]etaphors likely serve as more than efficient poetic expressions. A number of scholars, representing a diverse range of disciplines; have argued that metaphors play an important role in the ways in which humans make sense of their world" (p. 255). Because constructs such as values are often hard to articulate, even for scholars, it is expected that metaphor will play a part in the accounts of the participants of the present study. The identification of expressions of meta-values and values will be managed by a simple coding tool which will be assigned to each transcription. Transcriptions will be marked by the first name of the participant. This will enable easy identification of each of the constructs from a transcript. The interpretation of expressed Rokeach-values and root-values will be reviewed against the interview tape to verify context and maintain fidelity to the 26


participants account. The expressions of root-values and Rokeach-values will then be discussed in the fmdings in a narrative format. It may be argued that this method of gathering information will be entirely too subjective to produce reasonable and useful results. The method proposed is what has been correctly categorized as hermeneutic, that is, interpretive (Thomas and Chambers, 1989; Baxter, 1992). The process is what Jessica Benjamin (1988) Mishler (1986), and Fisher (1987) have described as "intersubjective." The idea that two people, two subjects, can interactively engage in meaningful dialogue, that one of them can tell a story the content of which is meaningful in his or her life; .arid that the other subject, the researcher, can later interpret meaning concerning the expression of values in interpersonal communication, that is, through giving an account of a meaningful experience. The Research Questions Following from the previous discussion the questions for this thesis are: Research Question One What are the root-values which can be identified from the personal account, narrative or story about the most important thing in one's life? 27


Research Question Two What are the Rokeach-values which can be identified from the personal account, narrative or story about the most important thing in one's life? Research Question Three Can this method be used to successfully gather information about root values and values as they are experienced and expressed by individuals? Research question one inquires of root-values as they might be expressed in a personal account or narrative about the most important thing in one's life. Root-values have been defmed as those constructs which give meaning through their opposing tension of opposites to values and value systems and which in turn inform our choices, actions and desires. In the interpretation of the accounts, root-values will be said to have been expressed when a word or phrase speaks to value and when the expressed value obtains its meaningfulness for the speaker in tension with its opposite whether or not the opposite is itself expressed. For example, if a speaker speaks about relationship, the meaningfulness of relationship will be interpreted form the context in which the value is expressed in relation to separation or individuation for the speaker whether or not the separation is expressed in the account. 28


The investigation into root-values is exploratory only. The idea of root values is not new even though the term might be. The term root-value could be exchanged with the term meta-value without loss of meaning. It is the intention of this question to discover if the construct of root-values is meaningful in the interpretation of personal accounts so that future investigations in the area of values or value related subjects might be more meaningfully informed. Research question two inquires of the expression of Rokeach-values in personal accounts. Rokeach-values are those values defmed by Milton Rokeach (1973) which comprise the 36 values of the Rokeach Values Survey (Rokeach, 1973). A listing of the Rokeach-values is presented in Appendix A of this thesis. Research. question three inquires of the utility of the proposed method for investigation of root-values and Rokeach values. From a practical standpoint, this is the key question to the study and as such, the study is a methodological investigation. The :utility of the method will be based on an interpretation of the fmdings concerning root-values and Rokeach-values. For the method to be said to be useful, root-values and Rokeach-values should be expressed in a simple majority of the accounts. 29


CHAPTER4 THE FINDINGS For this portion of the thesis, I am going to break with traditional form and write from the first person. It seems to me that in an research study working with research participant's oral accounts, narratives, that a narrative presentation of the findings is appropriate. In the presentation of the findings of which follow, I will attempt to speak as intelligently and articulately as I can in the hope that I can express the meaningfulness of the experience of this research effort to you, the reader. Considering the topics of my research, I feel that it is important to share with you what it is that happened. Under the circumstances, a frrst person narrative seems most appropriate. I must say at the outset that I am not an unbiased researcher. It is my personal belief that values are key to living a life. While I recognize the irregularity of this approach, it.seems to me to be the best way to open a new dialogue into the area of values. I have made every effort to formalize my work so that I can serve the ends of scientific research--to contribute to the knowledge . in the area of my own interest and of interest to my peers in a meaningful way. At the same time, I have worked hard to be unbiased in my expectations. Going into the research I felt very ambiguous about presenting the concept of 30


root-values in this thesis. At one point I was very unsure that I could articulate what it was I was looking for. I knew, intuitively, that root-values were present in the world in much the same way that C. G. Jung (1968) has described the construct of the archetype as existent. I knew form my conversations with friends and strangers alike that values were important. Many more people agreed to be interviewed for this research than there was time available in two short semesters. After completing the transcription of the interviews I experienced a powerful compulsion to crunch numbers and illustrate the findings in some pseudo-quantitative way. This is, in fact, precisely what I began to do. It suddenly seemed important to say how many root-values were expressed, by whom and to what extent they occurred in the different accounts. Then I tried to record and count the expressions of Rokeach-values in the same fashion which produced a couple of pages of interesting looking notes. In beginning to write these wonderfully quantitative looking findings I started to feel uneasy about what I was doing. To the fmdings I added a discussion of the root-value and Rokeach-value expressions in the individual accounts. I began to edit the discussion with descriptions of themes which seemed to be significant to each account. Still, I was uncomfortable with the discussion of my fmdings. Quantifying and recording and coding and counting all seemed to somehow lose 31


the importance and the meaningfulness I felt was present in the work. The numbers seemed to discount the value of value and the meaningfulness expressed in the accounts of my participants. Writing the fmdings in terms of the numbers and kinds of expressions in individual accounts felt faithful to the account -givers but lacked a sense of wholeness or interconnectedness. After several days of struggling with coding the accounts, trying to bring 150 pages of transcription down to a size manageable for presentation in this thesis, and trying to write a meaningful, intelligent, articulate interpretation of the findings, I started over. After reading what I had written, I realized that I .needed to be faithful to my own values as a researcher and that meant I had to find a way to. be faithful to the thesis study itself. I needed to tell the story of the work of this thesis and present the fmdings in terms of the values expressed here and in the accounts of my participants. In this way I believe I can be faithful to the rigors of scholarly research, faithful to the expressions of value in the participant's accounts and to the participants, and faithful to the findings of this thesis. In short, the work would become trivial if I reduce the fmdings below the level of meaning. If I stay with the narratives I maintain the integrity of my work and of the stories of the participants. This research originated out of my interest in values as they are present in the lives of people who are just living in the most meaningful way they can. As a graduate student in human communication it seemed important to learn how 32


values are expressed in our lives. The initial thrust was towards a quantitative study working around the Rokeach Value Survey (Rokeach, 1973). During the beginning stages of the thesis I became interested in the work of a number of scholars who had successfully used qualitative methoqs employing open-ended interviews. At the same time I began to articulate the idea of root values, something which I have pondered for a few years. These two things together combined to suggest a revision of my original prospectus, a change which was approved by my advisor and committee. The result is the present study. Root-values seemed an important idea because I felt it was important to open fresh discussion on the concept of values at a level of theory which worked as an underpinning to other theories of value. Here, the idea of root-values stands as the seed of a meta-theory of value or a theory of meta-values, if you will. Because of the work of those scholars whose qualitative investigations had inspired me, I elected to follow their lead and began the interview process at about the time I had completed the prospectus. The following description of the findings of this research is a presentation of the root-values and Rokeach-values which were discovered in the accounts given by the participants. Seven interviews were conducted and each participant was asked to tell the story of the most important thing that has happened in his or 33


her life. Root-values are expressed in six of the seven accounts. Rokeach-values are expressed in four. The participants were chosen by asking among the friends and acquaintances of the researcher if they would be willing to participate for the purposes of this thesis. In this context, there was already some kind of relationship present between the researcher and the respondents prior to the interview. For the purposes of the integrity of the research, a description of the situational setting and the researcher/respondent relationship is included with the synopses at the beginning of each account transcription in Appendix B of this thesis. Because of the extremely personal nature of some subject matter, the names of some respondents have been changed to maintain their confidentiality. Root-Values. RQl Truth and Falseness Truth is expressed in five of the six accounts which showed root-values. Truth usually appears in the context of personal truth, what is true for the speaker or in the context of something which is sought. Hugh, in giving his account and trying to express how his encounter with Death connected with the changes in his life said, "I think there was an awareness of, I wrestled with, not quite knowing what truth is about. . the weighing of factors and the desire to somehow find out what the truth is." Truth is elusive as Hugh adds a moment 34


later, "It's essentially that my experience seems to confuse what, what my search for the truth is. Sue, in describing her experience of coming out as a lesbian in the context of her commitment to relationship with her partner says of truth, "What that meant was just coming to terms with who I really am, and looking at all those teamed roles. Having to really decide for myself if I want to really keep them or not. . For Sue, her personal truth is a driving factor in her experience of coming out. Her personal truth stands in contrast to the truth represented by the expectations of her by her family and society. The tension of the two creates an opportunity for her to experience her personaltruth, an opportunity for choice. She says, "to make a choice and say, 'I can stay here or I can do something different.' What was different was to really look at who is Sue. Who am I . ? Instead of doing what my parents want, my family wants, what society wants .... Her expression of the need to be true to herself illustrates that the truth, when found, needs to be addressed, that a choice is required. Jane expresses truth in a similar way when she describes how people sometimes call her "weird" and how she has learned to respond to that. "I would painfully try to not be weird. Now when my friends say, 'You're weird,' I'm like, 'Yeah, thanks.' I own it. It's me" But Jane's account also expresses truth as in telling the truth, as an expectation of others. She sets truth in tension with 35


falseness. "What was really a scary experience for me was when amendment two was passed. I didn't hear anybody owning that they were going to vote for that and yet it passed. There was this part of me that wanted to shov(! people up against the wall and say, 'Tell me the truth. . I really want to know the truth."' Jan also expresses the importance of truth in the context of others telling the truth. In describing her expectations of her former husband she says of herself, "I was always looking for ways for him to prove that he loved me. I'm always looking for somebody to prove that what they say about me they mean." Denis expresses the value of truth as both a fact and a personal reality in the context of the decision to have his mother's chemotherapy stopped. "I knew she was dying," he says. "Everyone knew she was dying. She even knew it although it was hard for her to admit it. It was hard for my step-father to admit then, but they stopped the chemo." It Denis' account it feels as if the higher value of Truth is the supporting demand for right action. At the same time it is everyone's knowing the truth that is the justification. In Jan's account and in Jane's second expression of truth, truth is expressed in the same context as the Rokeach-value of Honesty which Rokeach ( 1973) parenthetically suggests means. sincere or truthful. This is meaningfully different from the other expressions of Truth in Hugh, Sue and Jane's accounts. In Hugh's account, Truth is something sought after. The call to action is to 36


seek, to find, to discover and this kind of Truth is seldom found. Hugh says, "It seems to, every time that I feel that I have a definition or a sense of what the truth is something comes along to introduce itself and maybe that's not it. ... In the expressions of the importance of Truth given by Sue and in the first instance in Jane's account, Truth is Personal Truth. It is sought after and discovered and it is found. So there are three distinct meanings expressed in relation to Truth. The first is ineffable, out there, metaphysical, hard to articulate. It is alinost as if there is a tacit hope that it will be recognized when found. This is the concept of truth as something deeply important, but elusive. It is expressed as if it requires no definition because it is assumed that everyone knows what it means. The second expression of truth is more easily grasped. Personal Truth is something that can be discovered but requires that one choose to hold on to it. As Sue said about her learned roles as a woman, "having to decide for myself if I want to really keep them or not and a lot of them I've gotten rid of or changed in some ways .... The roles are her living expressions of the truth as given to her by her family her church and society. Their truth is a heterosexual truth which has become false in relation to Sue's Personal Truth. The definitions of woman, wife, and daughter expected of Sue by her family and society are false in her personal meaning of truth. 37


Honesty, or truth as expressed in the third example is simple. It is the truth of facts and of action. It is verifiable truth. Simple Truth is the truth most easily grasped. It is quantifiable, measurable and repeatable. Together these three represent at least some part of the domain of Truth as a root-value in verbal expressions. They illustrate why Fisher (1987) has suggested that values are often context -bound. Truth exists in the stories that people tell but how that expression is meaningful in dialogue and in narrative must be gleaned from the particular context and sociocultural setting of the narrative as Truth against the backdrop of implicit or explicit Falseness in the same field. Relationship and Separateness Relationship is another root-value which appears in five of the six accounts where expressions of root-values are present. Relationship expresses in the context of connectedness of one kind or another. In these accounts it appears most often as relationship with another person but also as relatedness to universe, God or other more abstract concept. It is important because it stands against being separate from or in isolation from others. Separateness means being alone, individual, unconnected. Late in the interview with Hugh he interjects an anecdote of another person's experience. "When Don and I talk about an eleventh step he talks about going back to his earliest feeling moment and feeling comfortable and being with 38


his mother and holding on to her leg and stroking her coat. For me that wasn't the experience. My experience was there were never any people there." Hugh expresses in this segment his sense of separateness. His separateness is a value in tension with the absence of relationship. A moment later he gives the following account. "There was a time when I was sitting in the desert and we were living in Arizona and I looked up and was part of the desert. I was part of everything that was there. I could feel a great difference. I was really young, David, like eight or nine years old and that was just okay! As a matter of fact I felt' like I was so much a part of the desert that if I moved that the desert would move. That was just the way it was." Hugh's experience with people is one of separateness, at least in this account. At the beginning of the interview while giving an account of the circumstances of a near-death experience he refers to his companions as "soul mates" but he doesn't follow-up the term in any context which might suggest the importance of the relationship. In contrast, Sue and Jane speak directly of relationship as important. Sue says that the first important thing (of the several, "intertwined" most important things) "is meeting Jane, and not just meeting her but working out a relationship with her .... the relationship is something which has to be "worked out" both interpersonally and intrapersonally. It is the relationship which sparked the importance of Truth as noted above. 39


Sue expresses knowledge of negative relationship when she says, "I got involved with a guy and he was abusive and it was not a good relationship .... After her breakup with Jane and also after breaking up with the man she, "wanted to try and at least repair as much of the friendship as I could ... I hadn't treated her well and I had to look at the shadow part of myself. ... But she was willing and interested and so was I, in terms of trying to repair and recreate the friendship." Here, relatedness is friendship. But the relationship goes deeper. "Gradually we repaired it and really began to look at the spiritual connection and just the ... immensity of what we felt for each other ... it was just astounding and awesome to me." The cost of keeping her relationship with Jane is high. Later in her account she tells how her father says that Jane is, "not part of my family." And in contrast her mother is, "really invested in having a relationship and not losing her daughter." Sue's mother accepts Jane in order to keep her relationship with Sue. In contrast, Sue's father rejects Jane as part of the family as if he takes for granted that his relationship with Sue is secure. Sue is caught in the demands of maintaining relationships on all sides, including being faithful to her vows to her partner in spite of the costs with her family. Keeping her relationship with Jane is the living expression of her personal truth. In Sue's story relationship appears as a very complex set of meanings. It is her relationship with her partner. It is family and it is friendship. Separation 40


is separation from her family and from the proscribed values of her family and society. But separation is also a positive value when she says, "And yet, if I teach my family anything or if I learn anything fonn them, it's to be myself. And interestingly enough, my parents always prided us and taught us to do that, to be individual, to be who you are. In her story, Jane tells of the difficulty of being committed in a relationship. "For the longest time I was in therapy afraid of commitment. I couldn't even say commitment. ... My parents didn't have a great relationship .and, so I just couldn't see doing commitment." Of iler family relationship she says, "One of the things I learned from my family is, if you pissed them off, they didn't talk to you. They could consider cutting off the relationship. That used to be a mechanism that I had too. People made me mad. I didn't like conflict and so in order not to deal with conflict I wouldn't deal with adversity and I would lose the relationship." In these expressions, Relationship is a negative value. Separation is the safe route. But Jane makes a very interesting observation about relationship and separation. "If I've learned to love myself with all my warts and my beauty marks, and therefore, if I can do that for me, of course, I can do that for my friends. We're going to mess up ... but that doesn't take away from the fact that I care about you." Being a whole separate person is connected to being in relationship. "Somewhere along the line, well I can tell you along the line, 41


falling in love, loving myself, loving Sue and having that safety of Sue and I to branch out and have other friends, that I started to realize that I wanted closeness." Jane's story expresses the complexity of relationship and separateness, how they work positively and negatively and how both express meaning in her life, how relationship is a resource and like truth it is something one works for. For Jan, relationship is the most important thing. She says in her response to the opening question, "Like I said, the most important thing I feel that happened in my life was my getting married. Once more, the value expression is in tension with its opposite: In her story she relates that she got married very quickly after meeting her husband. "The biggest thing that made it happen so fast was, my whole life I wanted out and when he offered to take me out of it quicker than we'd planned on, well, I took him up on it." Her story tells of an abusive mother and a very challenging childhood. Getting away from her mother was part of getting to her husband. In response to the prompting question of what made being married special she answers, "I wanted a family." In Jan's account, the meaning of family, having children, is clarified when she says, "I finally would have something that I could love that's all my own and nobody could take it away from me. It was mine. And then as the family grew, that also became the most important thing to me and today, of course, that's the most important thing. To provide for them a stable family 42


home life like I never had .... Here the expression of relationship is clearly in the context of the Rokeach-value of Family Security, taking care of loved ones. So for Jan, relationship is both something in which one is engaged with another and also carries meaning in terms of giving to others. Denis talks about relationship as closeness in telling about caring for his mother in the last few days before her death. He explains that taking care of his mother deepened his relationship with his step-father. "Another thing that was a byproduct of that was my stepfather and l became closer. He and I had a very distant and at times, I'd been pissed at him most of my life .... So through our trying to take care of her, we became closer through that experience." He says of his relationship with his mother, "[Her death] made us closer in some new ways. The role reversal [of taking care of her] was one way. Denis goes on to say, "The thing I was able to do is. .. I would say, 'It's okay for you to die,' and that seemed to help. . It was very intimate. . We didn't resolve things. . So mostly our time together at the end ... was just being quiet." Denis' story about taking care of his mother shows the deepest level of intimacy between a child and a parent, a level of relationship which seems to transcend commonplace understanding. This together with the other expressions of relationship and separation in these accounts suggests a continuum of possible meaning when expressing the value of relatedness and separation. Both have positive and negative value. 43


Other RootValues Life and Death. Denis' account presents a good opportunity to consider the values of Life and Death. In his story he says that the most important event in his life is the death of his mother, "It was probably the process of how she died that was so important. . Death is not commonly considered a value or even as having value. It is life that is valued. But in this instance it is death which precipitates closer relationships and encounters with truth. At one point, Denis says, "I learned a lot about death because I had never been so intimately related to death." Death stands in oppositional tension with Life. At the root level it is death that gives meaning to life. Hugh also spoke about death, his own encounter with almost dying. When I sat down when you first indicated that this might be the subject, what kind of came up instantly was almost dying of carbon monoxide and all that business that went along with it and the near-death experience that you know, it's not that event that was so significant, it's what happened afterward. We'll put that as areal close number two, okay? It was Hugh's encounter with death that gave significance to life. . Denis says of the change that came after his mother's death, "I think if freed me up to love someone .... My mother's dying caused something to shift for me in terms of my ability, well, fust of all, I saw how important, I experienced how important it is to love someone and to hang in there with them .... Death informs life choices, in Denis' case freeing him up to love. In Hugh's case, it informs the "progression of life itself." 44


Spiritual and Material. The root-value of Spiritual is dominant in John's account. John's answer to the interview question is, "I can never remember, ever remember a time when the religious or the spiritual was no the most significant thing in my life. So my sense would be the one thing would probably be out of that particular tradition or feeling or thinking or doing or understanding of life. But the end on that point, it sprays and becomes a whole host of different things. . But I think all of those are asking, at some level, the same core question and that is, What is the relationship with ultimate reality? What is the relationship with God ... ? What are the issues that are important to that ultimate reality and how am I related to them? I think all of those traditions are asking that question. Although they hit the wheel at very different spots." John.goes on in his story to give several accounts of the events that have been "touchstones" in his spiritual journey. The accounts are of the markers which have been the turning points in his life which is dominated by the spiritual. The spiritual has meaning by the absence of the importance of material things in John's life. It is the spiritual which informs John's values of relationship. 45


Rokeach-Values. RQ2 Honesty Honesty, clarified by Rokeach as sincere or telling the truth is expressed in three accounts. As mentioned above, Jane talks about truth as honesty when she says that she wants to interrogate people concerning their voting choice on Colorado's amendment two. "Tell me the truth. I don't care how you voted. Well, I do care. But more importantly to me, I really want to know the truth." In Sue's story, honesty is important and expressed as a personal need. "I needed to be honest with my family. I needed to come out to them and I needed to do that in person." Honesty is necessary to being who she is. It is being honest with herself. "I don't think anyone can be who they really are and be, and discover that truth and hide it from the rest of the world. I just don't think it's possible. It puts too much constraint on you and too many pressures." As already mentioned in the comments on Jan's account, honesty is important for her when she says that, "I'm always looking for somebody to prove that what they say about me they mean. . because my mother would say she would love me but then she'd do these terrible things." Honesty is doing what you say, having your actions support your words, walking the talk. Jan's mother's falseness informs her value of honesty. 46


Family Security Rokeach qualifies Family Security as taking care of loved ones and True Friendship as close companionship (Rokeach, 1973). They are grouped together here as together they resonate against the root-value of relationship. They do not resonate against separation which would most likely fit against the Rokeach-value of Independent which did not appear in the narratives of these respondents. Jan expresses the importance of family security when she talks about her boyfriend and his family taking her in. "He let me have his car so I could drive to school. They put me up on the couch. They had a big family but they still took me in. They fed me and took care of me." She expresses the same value when she speaks about her own family. "To provide for them a stable family home life like I never had. I was fortunate that I could stay home and be a mom. And I liked all the cooking, the baking, the house cleaning ... all that stuff. I thrived. I just loved it." True Friendship Jane says something about friendship which expresses the Rokeach value of close companionship. "Having that safety of Sue and I to branch out and have other friends. . I started to realize that I wanted closeness. It is the closeness of her relationship with her partner, Sue, that enables her to "branch out" and have other friends. 47


Sue expresses a similar feeling of importance about the period after they had broken up for a time. "I wanted to try and at least repair as much of the friendship as I could. . I hadn't treated her well. . But she was willing and interested and so was I, in terms of trying to repair and recreate the friendship." A Sense of Accomplishment and Happiness Sandy expressed that the most important thing in her life was her children. This response prompted me to ask more about what that meant. Her replay was that, "My children are the most important thing in my life because of the things they have individually accomplished. She related some of the things which her children had done in support of her response. I have included the Rokeach-value of happiness here because Sandy express.ed this as her "wish" for her family, that they could be happy. My interview with Sandy was interrupted by problems with the tape recorder and she added this value expression at the end of the interview after prompting if there is anything else she wanted to say. Meaningfulness of the RQ3 If I were to start counting the number of instances of root-values and Rokeach-values, perhaps just build a score card, I could say that root-values were 48


indicated in six accounts and that Rokeach values were expressed in four accounts. I could list what they are and present the numbers and perhaps even build a factorial analysis. But given the sample size of seven accounts, while the numbers might produce significance within the sample, in the broader context communication research, the numbers would be meaningless. Research Question one asks if root-values are expressed in the personal accounts of individuals responding to a question asking them to tell the story about the most important thing that has happened in their life. The evidence from the accounts given for this research suggests that root-values are meaningful for these respondents. The way in which they talk what has been important in their lives, that they make repeated efforts to support and clarify and substantiate what they say supports this suggestion. The kinds of root-values expressed suggests that root-values are important to people in their life experiences. Truth, Life, Relationship are things which we know are important. As expressed in these account these root-values are seen to exist in tension with their respective opposing values and that the tension is part of the meaningfulness of the value. The second research question considers Rokeach-values. The interpretation of these accounts suggests that the participants of this study do express Rokeach-values in their narratives but not in similar proportion to root values. It is noteworthy, however, that the Rokeach-values expressed bear 49


resemblance to the root-values expressed which implies that the root-values are indeed meaningful to the respondents. The third research question considers the utility of the method for gaining insight into root-values and Rokeach-values from personal accounts. The answer is Yes and No respectively. Narrative accounts appear to be useful for interpretation of root-values but not for Rokeach-values. At least for these participants, the tensional forces of negative or oppositional values seems to put forward an expression of root-values rather than expressions of Rokeach-values. For the expression of Rokeach-values, the interpretation of personal accounts appears to be inefficient at best. Discussion Overall, the fmdings are promising in spite of the fact that Rokeach values were not expressed as frequently as I initially expected. That the method appears useful for the exploration of root-values is very pleasing. But the most interesting part of the findings was outside the operational definition of root values and Rokeach-values. The most common theme in the accounts expressing root-values is the idea of change. In fact, it is so prevalent that I would consider naming change and stasis as root-values except that they were not expressed as important. Each 50


of the participants who expressed root-values described their most important experiences as "shattering," as a "struggle," or as a "change." Another significant aspect is the way in which the root-values (and the Rokeach-values) appear as a web of interconnected meanings in the expressions of the personal experiences of the respondents. In each case where someone told me a story or group of stories, the values expressed form their meaning within the broader context of the person's overall experience. Truth and falseness constellate with relationship and separation, and also with Rokeach-values such as true friendship, honesty, and courage. There is no hierarchical meaning attached to the expressed values. They appear as a set but the set is not ordered suggesting that as one value constellates with others, still others are added in the process of meaning making in the account and in the person's life. There are noteworthy points concerning the root-values of relationship and separateness and the Rokeach-value of true friendship. Baxter (1988) has suggested that the struggle between relationship and separateness constitutes a dialectic both interpersonally and interpersonally which might expand the range of generalizability of the findings here concerning these root-values. Similarly, in a study by Klinger ( 1977) friendship was ranked most important to participants in a broad survey also supporting that relationship and the Rokeach-value of true friendship would be operant in a larger population, 51


One final comment is that one account, Sandy's, did not express root values. This finding is important because is shows that root-values are not inherent in personal accounts. Furthermore, her account illustrates that personal accounts are not all value laden even with an opening question such as the one used for this study. Critique This study set out to explore the meaningfulness of expressions of root values and Rokeach-values in personal accounts concerning the most important thing in the participant's life and to examine the utility of interpreting accounts for these value constructs. Seven interviews were conducted. Root-values appear to be a meaningful construct in the interpretation of six of the accounts. Rokeach-values appear to be meaningful in four of the accounts. The method appears to be useful for discovery of root-values but is inefficient for work with Rokeach-values. Strengths and Weaknesses The greatest weakness of the study is its size. While size is not the major consideration in a study of this kind, the number of interviews directly affected the fmdings in terms of the number of root-values discovered. The findings indicate that in a substantially larger study factor analysis could be applied 52


appropriately. In the present study, quantitative analysis was not an immediate concern as the focus was on testing the narrative method for this work and the discovery of root-value expressions. This points to another weakness of the study. Because the study has no quantitative components, it is not as likely to strike much interest in the academic community. Professional journals are more likely to accept work which has a quantitative basis as that aspect alone lends credibility where a strictly narrative approach has less. Given that one goal of research is to disseminate the findings, qualitative research of the kind in this study is less likely to be broadly reviewed. Another weakness in the study is that the respondents are all acquaintances ofthe researcher. This is a notable restriction on the generalizability of the work. In conjunction with this, it is also problematic that there is only one researcher/interviewer for this study. In a larger study multiple interviewers would almost be necessary. In contrast, the very point that this study has employed a strictly narrative approach is one of its strengths. As a method of describing research, narrative is cumbersome. It is a challenge simply to present findings in a way that is readable, understandable, and useful. The present study demonstrates that it is possible to for two people to have a dialogue in a context meaningful to the research, the participants and to the discipline of communication. 53


Implications for Future Research It is the opinion of this researcher that the study suggests that more research could be conducted using personal accounts and a narrative method. This applies both to research which employs statistical manipulation and those that might venture to try strictly narrative technique. The narrative method also appears to be useful for studies investigating the meanings of values where non socially desirable constructs might be important. That is, the method appears to be useful for evaluating "negative" values such as death and falseness, as well as value constructs where tensor opposites might be meaningful. Research in this vein would be useful in communication, social psychology, psychology and other disciplines where what people say, the meaning attached to their words is important. The construct of root-values suggests several different avenues for future research. The most direct line would be the design of a larger study following the same lines as this thesis. A larger study conducted over a year or more could produce substantially stronger results simply by having a larger population. The present study took seven months of steady work. A larger study using more than one investigator could be beneficial. Root-values present possibilities in psychology, communication and social psychology. The findings regarding root-value suggests that different people work with different sets of root-values. It is conceivable that root-values might 54


be an indicator of adult human development. Communication research might benefit by exploring the concept of root-value as it might apply in Fisher's (1987) narrative paradigm. Research which expands Rokeach (1968a, 1973) could be very interesting by applying constructs of root-value to the values survey. It would be interesting to see how the value survey would look just by including non-socially desirable values in opposition to the Rokeach-values. 55


APPENDIX A The Rokeach Values A comfortable life Ambitious An exciting life Broadminded A sense of accomplishment Capable A world at peace Cheerful A world of beauty Clean Equality Courageous Family Security Forgiving Freedom Helpful. Happiness Honest Inner Harmony Imaginative Mature Love Independent National Security Intellectual Pleasure Logical Salvation Loving Self-respect Obedient Social recognition Polite True Friendship Responsible Wisdom Self-controlled From: The Nature of Human Values (Rokeach, 1973). 56


Hugh age: 43 Setting APPENDIX B The Accounts Date: 05/02/94 covl Hugh and I met at his home. We sat at the dining room table and drank coffee while we conducted the interview. Hugh and I have been friends for abut five years. Synopsis Hugh says that the most important thing in his life is life itself. He tells a story about how he almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning and three other meaningful episodes in his life. Three of the stories are about death or have death symbolism. H I really struggle with this one, David. I really struggle with this one. I don't know if there is any one thing in answer to the most significant in 57


my life. Ah, maybe just the progression of life itself over the years. That feels like the best answer I can give you. d What is it about that that's meaningful? H I think its a variety of experience period. This may sound kind of dopey. I like variety in life. When I sat down when you first indicated that this might be the subject, what kind of came up instantly was almost dying of carbon monoxide and all that business that went along with it and the near experience that you know, it's not that event that was so significant, it's what happened afterwards. We'll put that as a real close number two, okay. d A real close number two to what came after? H To what came after or actually to the most significant event being life itself. We'll call it the second one, as far as fostering realization. d So life itself has greater meaning because of that near-death experience? H Probably. And once again, the quality of the realization *** Hugh-tells a story. *** d Uh-huh. And so that made a change in your life. Was the change like the next day or? 58


H No actually I think the change came before the event. I think there was an awareness of, I wrestled with, not quite knowing what truth is about or having a set of seemingly conflicting values or ways of living. d Yeah, I know, in the late sixties we were all pretty invincible. H Late sixties, seventies, eighties, and it kind of goes on today, of course, the weighing of factors and the desire to somehow find out what the truth is. d Yeah, but, was it for you, was it about truth? H Yeah I think so. I really do. Absolutely. d How did the truth fit together with near death, for you? H Ah, that's a struggle, David. It's essentially that my experience seems to confuse what my search for the truth is. It seems to, every time that I feel that I have a definition or a sense of what the truth is something comes along to introduce itself and maybe that's not it and this was one of them. This was real graphic and real life threatening and all that so it made an impression. But there are little subtleties on a daily basis. What do I think and how do I act? What happened and how do I react? That sort of thing. d So, if I'm hearing right, there's a truth that's kind of out there, a Platonic kind of truth, and there's some other truth which is, right now, every day, I would say an alive truth. 59


H Yeah there's a truth behind the truth, I think. It's like, why, why is it so necessary to even search for it except when we're questioning it? d Well, yeah, why is it necessary to search for it? I mean, I'm not, I know I share that drive. That is a hard thing. But, what makes that? H I don't know. You know in some ways it seems like a sense of comfort and knowledge would probably help but in another sense no it wouldn't. It's like every question, every perception has its antithesis. Maybe that's simply the truth. Or maybe there's more than one anti thesis. *** d Was that important, that the questions were out, that you were thinking the questions? H Yeah. Absolutely. Very important. d Why do you think that's important? H Because it's something that I feel that enriches somebody. If things. are greater than myself or greater than niy awareness of them then there's got to be something greater than my awareness of even looking at that awareness and it's much, much bigger and that's why I kind of like the idea. of the cobs and the cobweb if you will, of the oneness of the universe. I guess it's the dead bird quasi-religious experience. d Well it sou':lds like it's. important, that life is important, but that it's also-60


H And death is important too, or even non-life. I won't even say death. Death always kind of implies that life is the only thing that's important but even if there was no life and there was existence that would be kind of fun too. *** H And you know I can't even bring to mind anything that's significant around parental things, perhaps this is parenthetical but when Don and I talk about an eleventh step he talks about going back to his earliest feeling moment and feeling comfortable and being with. his mother and holding on to her leg and stroking her coat. For me that wasn't the experience. My experience was there were never any people there. *** See for me when Don shared that with me and I started going back with my experience of the awareness of God and everything being okay in my life was one more or less of neutrality. There was no need, to have safety. Since the existence and the awareness of it I've had moments of absolutely, I'll use the word neutral, for lack of a better word right now, I mean nothing exhilarating, it wasn't really anything, it was kind of, I felt pretty much part of it all. d And now it's somewhere in between safety and risk and caution. H There was a time when I was sitting in the desert and we were living in Arizona and I looked up and was part of the desert. I was part of 61


everything that was there. I could feel a great difference. I was really young, David, like eight or nine years old and that was just okay! As a matter of fact I felt like I was so much a part of the desert that if I moved that the desert would move. That was just the way it was. *** d So there was a sense of connectedness when that happened. H And that's one of the things that I look at is the connectivity *** and that is significant to me in that it would appear that safety is important to God, being connected with him. That's my liaison with the God experience. *** end covl 62


John age:58 5/29/94 cov2 Setting John and I met on a Sunday afternoon at his condominium. We sat on the couch and visited. John's interview was by far the longest at almost two hours. John and I have been friends for about five years and share many conirnon interests. Synopsis Johrt says that the spiritual and the religious are the most important things in his life. He then tells about three significant turning points in his life that have led him to where he is now in his life journey. This account is heavily abridged. John is an ordained minister and skilled seminar leader and story teller. He uses story for his account. J I fmd that a difficult question, David. It's a little too monotheistic for me. I would have to point to a host of things which I think would be okay. I can never, you tell me if I'm moving in the direction you want. I can never remember, ever remember a time when the religious or the 63


spiritual was not the most significant thing in my life. So my sense would be the one thing would probably be out of that particular tradition or feeling or thinking or doing or understanding of life. But the end on that point, it sprays and becomes a whole host of different things. I grew up in fairly tight, rigid, piotistic, moralistic sort of church environment. A lot of does and a lot of don'ts and still carry the scars of that with me. Then I went on and was trained in a very orthodox seminary with a very liberal-political tradition. But I think, then of course I've gone on to do the work with the Records of the Life of Jesus .. But I think all of those are asking at some level the same core question and that is, What is the relationship with ultimate reality? What is the relationship with God, whatever term they _might want to use for that. What are the issues that are importarit to that ultimate reality and how am I related to them? I think all of those traditions are asking that question. Although they hit the wheel at very different spots. d Is there something that happened in your life that moved you away from that kind of one;_sided righteous life? Is there -a milestone in there someplace? J There are several touchstones that I can point to. *** 64


John tells the stories of his work with Annelle Norton, Clyde Reid and his coming to the Guild for Psychological Studies and becoming a Guild Leader, somethlng he has done pro bono for the last twenty years. *** J Well, and I'm a Tauran .and, Freud that the royal road to the unconscious is the dream. Jung said it's the complex. This whole other spiritual tradition says it's beauty. And for the Tauran beauty is absolutely essential. When Luella first did my chart she said, the first thing she said to me. is, "You can't work in shabby surroundings.". And for me beauty is that road and that's closer to the image. *** I think that when I was at Mountain View as a pastor, have you ever been in that building? Inside that Quilding is all natural cedar which is a very rich wood. I've watched .at weddings sometimes, a bride will put a single mum on the alter and the whole place is alive. It just ha:s that ability to do that. So it was a rich environment to begin with. We made it a point during the various seasons in the chl.Irch to create a beautiful physical environment. And I think we all look for that. We have different ideas of what that is but visually we could do things there that would cross generations that we couldn't do musically. Because these kids won't listen to music that's 65


beautiful to me and I can't stand what's beautiful to them. But visually we could reach across the generations. d You preached there-J I was there eight and a half or nine years. Right around-that, from seventy-six to eighty-five. d I know you impacted a lot of people while you were there because the people I meet who went to church there that remember you all speak of those days with a sense of joy. J We had a real communicty and a lot of lives. were transformed, not just changed, but transformed. Some of them just got changed. but a lot of lives were transformed. So that was a significant touchstone for me also to try to work out all those things that were going on. And I, I'm trying to think of some other ways to say some of these things. d When did you know that these were what was important of you? J I can not remember when these were not the basic issues for me. *** end cov2 66


Sue age: 31 6/1/94 cov3 Setting Sue and I met on the patio behind her house and drank iced tea. Sue and I have been friends for two years. Syno.psis Sue tells the story about coming into a permanent relationship with her partner' about the struggles she has faced in coming out as a lesbian to her family and her friends. M As I've thought about this question, because that's what I remembered about what we talked about a month ago or whatever, was what the most important event or thing in your life. And I thougbt, well there seems to be several but they all sort of intertwine. I think one wouldn't be there without the others, ot the growth is related to several things. I think the first one is meeting Jane and not just meeting her but working out a relationship with her and which meant coming out to myself and coming to my family, to my community, which was an enormous task for the 67


good Irish daughter who grew up as the very good girl in her church and her family. This was just counter-indicated at every point. And yet what that meant was just coming to terms with who I really am. And looking at all those learned roles. Having to really to decide for myself if I want to really keep them or not and a lot of them I've gotten rid of or changed in some way and discovered that there's a lot more important things in me than being a good daughter or being a good Catholic or being a good woman in the way that society may determine that to be being a good wife. And I think that, that also happening and so many things happened at that time when I think of the time when Jane and I broke up and had to really decide if this relationship was just sort of a fling, fun, waiting for the right man to come along. And so completely in denial that this might be real, and having to decide if that's what we wanted or not. We broke up and I ran screaming into the wind. It's like, there's no way I want to be that and had the summer from hell and had to really decide and really look inside and say, "Okay, these are your options. And this is shit. This life is horrible, that you think you want." I got involved with a guy and he was abusive and it was not a good relationship and have to really look at, ''Is that what you want?" d So you got into a relationship with a guy? 68


M I did. I ran into a relationship with a guy that I had worked with who was everything that l thought I was supposed to want. Catholic, worked in the church doing all the same things I was doing at the time. It just turned into a very emotionally abusive relationship that was really difficult. And I .look at that summer, five years ago, and that's like the lowest point, I think, in my life that I can see. And I think, I'm glad I went there because I had to go there to see that to make a choice and say, "You know, this is really the pits. I can stay here or I can do something different." What was different was to. really look at who is Sue. Who am I? What do I really want out of life? Instead of doing what my parents want, my family wants, what society wants, and deciding whether or not I was going to do that. Do I want to be what everyone else says I should be or do I.want to fmd out who I am. That's pretty scary. *** d So, were you in conflict with, did. that, her idea about commitment put you in conflict with the relationship? M I think it put me in conflict with myself and with the relationship because what that meant was, if that's really what we had. Then I really wasn't the good, Catholic, daughter who was going to get married and walk down the aisle in the long white dress and the veil and that wasn't going to be my life. I'd looked at to some extent already but, I really had to 69


think about and look inside and find what was the truth for me, about who I wanted to be and who I felt I was and feel I am. And I did certainly create an enormous conflict in our relationship. We tried, over that summer to be friends but I couldn't even do that because I was so I allowed myself to get so enmeshed with this guy and it was so unhealthy that I just couldn't do it. I couldn't live both worlds. Finally when he and I broke up the end of that summer because, interestingly enough, he had came running from his girlfriend, they ahnost to get married and since have. He was running form her and I was running from Jane. So we broke up and they got back together; I think it was in the same week that Jane called and said, "You know, this is not how friends do friendship. If we're going to be friends, we're going to get together. We're going to do lunch. We're going to talk about real things." So this sort of the shit or get off the pot call. We're either going to do that or we're going to call it quits. But we're not going to do this sort of nebulous thing that's not really a friendship. I thought to myself that the timing of this is really synchronistic and 1 wanted to try and, at least repair as much of the friendship as I could. Because what I also had to look at was I'd. been a real shit to Jane for three or four months. I hadn't treated her well and I had to. look at the shadow part of myself or whatever and see that I could really be a-person who wasn't very nice. 70


But she was willing and interested and so was I, in terms of trying to repair and recreate the friendship. So we started to do that by talking and we did some going out to movies or whatever, just kind of real casual things and gradually we really repaired it and really began to look at the spiritual connection and the, just the amazing, the immensity of what we felt for each other but just didn't, I had never known before. I had never felt before. It was just astounding and awesome to me. We talked about I can remember talking to her on the phone and just having these visions of the universe and stars and planets and just soaring out in some place so much bigger than myself. d So you were in love. D I was in love. Yeah! That's a good way of putting it. So, I felt my feelings gave me away. My brain told me, my logical programmed side said what I was supposed to do and my feelings said completely the opposite. d That's a hard place to be. M It's very painful at times. *** M And I think that the whole coming out process culminated, for me, at the ceremony last summer. We had talked about having a ceremony. And we had planned it for. much earlier than when we actually ended up doing 71


it. We had talked about the year before. We talked about spring last year and we fmally settled on August. I kept pushing it off because I was out to my whole family and I couldn't do that stuff without being out to my whole family and being able to invite them and include them. So that was really a culmination of saying to my family, especially because my friends and stuff were much easier. And the people I worked with were much easier than my family. So at that point I could say, II Come with us. Come be a part of us. Come join us." You know what I mean? 11Comewitness with us what's so important to us. II And I had to be able to invite them. I had to be able to incorporate my family or I think it wouldn'thave felt as significant I had hidden it from my family and just done it, I don't think it would have had the impact. *** d You had said that you weren't a good Catholic and you weren't a good daughter and you couldn't be a good wife. Do you think now, as a married woman, that being a married lesbian woman, that those things are mutually exclusive to yoti? M No. They're not. I'm a more spiritual person now than! ever was when I was in the Catholic church. I still have yearnings for that. I still, in fact, I was working the last few weeks, on a music program and we ended up practicing at my old church, which was a few blocks from the 72


house where I grew up and the school where I went to from preschool to high school. My whole life happened in like a ten block area. So I'm driving up from Wash Park to Blessed Sacrament and I can just feel it in my body. It's like, my God, I'm going home. Walking into the church and feeling this is so powerful, this is so overwhelming, the amount of feeling and the amount of history that's here. And yet walking into the church and feeling that it's just not my home anymore. *** M It feels really important, primarily it's .important for me and it's important for us to be who we are. But I think secondarily it must have . impact in the world. I think if we want to change our society or our culture or whatever, we just have to do it in our own back yard. I know the more I know the less I know. But, it. seems to me if I live my life in my own truth and I follow that, that it has. to have impact somehow. And I may never know how. But I think it has to, if for nothing else than the sheer honesty of it in this day and age. When all else fails, I come back to what's honest, what is honest for me. What can I honestly say? What can I live with? I have to go to bed with myself at night, first and foremost. And if I can't live with what I've said or how I've chosen to do something or be in the world then, what's the point? *** 73


M I'm not sure there'S a right way, to be honest. I think it's about what feels honest for yourself and your relationship, for both of the people. d Is there anything else that you want to add? M Yeah. I was thinking, when we were talking about the good Catholic, the good wife, the good daughter part. We never really talked about the good daughter part. And I need to say something about that because that's been the hardest place of all. My family has been such a mixed bag in reacting to this. I came out to my mother first, it's been almost two years, I think, right after we came back from school. It's been longer. than that, my word. Three years this fall. But I came out to her, the typical reaction from, nobody was surprised, in fact my brothers laughed at me. *** And my dad who, again, was not surprised but very disappointed. Told him over dinner one night. That was the most scary thing I'd ever done in my entire life, sit across the table from my father who thought I was going to ask for money for a down payment on a house and come out to him. Because I called the meeting, we'd gone through dinner and he said, "Well, you called this gathering. What's up?" "Well, dad," and he said, "Well, I'm not surprised. But I'm disappointed." Somewhere later in the conversation he chuckled and said, "I thought you were going to 74


ask for a down payment on a house." Not even close. And he's been very clear. I guess I can appreciate that, that he's not been wishy-washy about his position at all. He didn't come to the ceremony. He thought what we did was sacrilegious, made a mockery of my brothers' and sisters' weddings. And I said something about that she'd been coming to family functions for five years or something at this point. I said, "you know, it seems like people like her and she's part of the family." And he said, "She's not part of my family." He was very clear. d That's very sad. M It's very hard. d Does you mom. balance that somewhat? M Not very well. What I've learned, and this has really forced me to look at my family issqes and all of that. What I think I know is that, my mom struggles. with it. She'll never be somebody, I think, should never say never. I don't think she'll be somebody who can embrace it and be happy for me. But she's really invested in having a relationship and not losing her daughter. There was a part of me that truly believed that in coming out to my family I'd lose them. That they would just say, "That's it," and write you out of the family or whatever. They haven't done that. Sometimes it would be easier if they would. *** 75


I've done my work. I've come out to them. I've been honest. I've been myself. I can't make it any easier for them. They have to deal with their own feelings about this and I'm more than willing to talk with them and be with them on the journey, if they so desire. But, I can't drive them through it. And I certainly don't need to put myself, or Jane, into situations that just feel like crap. *** d It sounds-like, what I'm hearing are two definitions of good daughter that stand in tension with each other. And they are mutually exclusive. M They are. they are completely. I think, the part of me that is my parent or my, that real Jittle kid inside of me that says, "No, you're not being good, because that's not what mommy and daddy want." The little parent that says, "This is not what you're supposed to be doing," says, "No, I'm not a good daughter." But me, the rest of me or whatever, knows that I am in the sense, again, that if I can do nothing else in this world than be my self, I will have done a great thing. And there are a lot, there are times when that's reallyhard to remember. When it's easier to be that old persona and it's easier to fall into those old and those old habits than to be courageous and be who I am. And yet, if I teach my family anything, or if I learn anything from them, it's to be myself. And interestingly enough, my parents always prided us and taught us to do 76


that, to be individual, to be who you are. If you're an artist, be an artist. If you, I mean everybody got supported for what they liked and what they were good at. We're not cookie-cutter kids by any imagination. I had something else but I forgot what it was. d I hate it when that happens. M I think about just being a good daughter, who I am, that's what I've learned. That's the-growth from that little kid, from child to an adult, and to an awareness, that's who I am. That's what I have to be. d Good for you. Anything else? M No that about does it. end cov3 77


Jane 6/5/94 age:37 cov2 Setting Jane and I met in her living room on a Sunday morning. She and I have been friends for two years .. Synopsis Jane's stories are about coming to know herself and about relationship. Jane is Sue's partner. B It's funny because you asked me this a while back and I've kind of shifted and thought this story and that story and kind of where I settled in on, l remembered about ten year& ago, I was dating this guy, might have been longer than ten years ago and he said to me, "I love you." And I said, "You don't love me. You don't know me. If you knew me, you wouldn't say that." And he started saying, "Oh I know you." And he started saying all of these things that I thought I had hidden well, that I thought nobody knew because it's as though I have this box where things in this box are okay and things outside of this box weren't okay. And he 78


started naming all these things outside of my box. And it totally freaked me out and I got totally pissed off at him and I told him to leave and he left and that night I had a dream. I had a dram that I was looking in a mirror and the mirror shattered. Behind the mirror was a monster and it was me. So that whole interaction totally shook me up. And what I realized, it took me a long time to put it together, and going to therapy and that helped, was that I had such a tight little package of what I could be and, and I didn't fit that package very well. And I kept trying and trying and trying. Something about that interaction kind of shattered the package and it felt like I was trying to put pieces back together again. There's certain things that people have always said about me that I always hated and tried to push aw"-Y Now I've to a place where I embrace it d What kind of things? B Like, a word that has always been used for me,. ever since I was small, that I hated and now I love it. When they say it I say, "thank you," is "weird." People say I'm weird. And I would ask them, "Well, what do you mean by that?" And I would painfully try to not be weird. Now when my friends say, "You're weird," I'm like, "Yeah, thanks." I own it. It's me. I'm totally comfortable with it now. I have a lot of friends 79


who, I think, like me because I am weird because. They see that as an attribute. And I'm starting to see it that way too. d Your weirdness is an attribute? B I think so. I mean it, I guess what I've learned is that things are a two edged sword. Anything that we would name would have two sides to it, even being nice. That's sounds positive but I think there's such as thing as being so nice where it's negative. It's like the doormat syndrome. Get over it. So I've learned that about myself that, okay yeah, I'll take that piece. I'll take that. The other part about, it's just been a long journey of learning who I am and accepting that. Part of that was accepting, for the longest time I was in therapy afraid of commitment. I couldn't even say commitment. I would say, "the C-word." Because it was so scary. My parents didn't have a great relationship and so I just couldn't see doing commitment. It didn't help that as the oldest child, as a Catholic, good kid. Here I was trying so hard to do the right thing and this is what I was taught was the right thing. You know, you get married, you have a lot of babies, you bring them to church, you know you did the right thing. And I tried to do that. I was engaged twice. It just, something never felt quite fight and I, again, with my little package deal I wouldn't allow myself to see what was outside the box, the package. And what I finally caught on to is, what's not working about getting married and 80


having kids is I'm _a lesbian and it's kind of funny because I figured out how to do the C-word and that I was a lesbian all in the same shot. That was a shattering of the box too. But once,it's funny, working as hard as I possibly could to fit in that box, I never felt peaceful. I never felt content, or rarely. I had glimpses of it. But for the most part it just felt like a struggle. Don't be weird. Don't be gay. Don't be this. Don't be that. I kept pushing and trying and it wasn't until I embraced, okay, I am weird. Okay, I am gay or lesbian or whatever that I started to peaceful. I started to feel content. I didn't feel like I was struggling so much. And that .has been the most valuable piece for me, is not' having to, it's to just, I think that what it's about is I'm starting to know myself and like myself and not keep trying to push in to something I'm not. That has made a lot of difference with myself and with my levels of friendship now. I used to stiilk at friendships. Even though I really wanted them, I stunk at them. But it's funny, once I put together that I was in love with Sue and that, yeah, that's what I am, my relationships, I could do commitment too. I could say the word. *** d Does commitment extend to friendship too? B It's definitely gone all the way across the line now. I know how to be a good friend. I leanied from my family, unfortunately,_ I learned a lot of 81


.good things. But I learned some bad things too. One of the things I learned from my family is,. if you pissed thell off, they didn't talk to you. They could consider cutting off the relationship. That used to be a mechanism that I had too; People made me mad, I didn't like conflict and so in order not to deal with conflict I wouldn't deal with adversity and I would lose the relationship. I don't do that anymore. I'm not afraid of conflict anymore. I'm not afraid to say, "We've got a problem and I care so much about you I'm going to work it out. *** B And see the connection is, if I've learned to love myself with all my warts and my beauty marks, and therefor, if I can do that for me, of course, I can do that for my friends. We're going to mess up. We're goiflg to mess up. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to piss me off sometimes. I'm going to piss you off sometimes. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I care about you. Okay, so you messed up. Okay, I'm a little pissed off, give me an hour to cool off or whatever, and we'll talk about it later. We're going to get back to us. It's not a done deal. *** B Umhmm. See what I miss about the South, I know the South takes a bad rap a lot of the time, sometimes deserved though many times undeserved, 82


what I miss about the South is, people are straight shooters for the most part there. If they're prejudiced, they tell you, "I'm prejudiced." They tell you, "I'm a member of the They tell you, "Here's my sign in my store, we reserve the right to serve whomever we want," and you knew who they were talking about. So you could choose to just walk out of there. What was really a scary experience for me was when amendment two was I didn't hear anybody owning that they were going to vote for that. And yet it passed. There was this part of me that wanted to shove people up against the walland "Tell me the truth. I don't care how you voted. Well, I do care. But more importantly to me, I really want to know the truth. I want to know how to deal with you straight forward. I want to know if I need to cover my back or not." And it reminded me of when I was growing up and: a black friend of mine went away to New York to get away from the prejudice of the South and a. year later she came back. I said, "Cindy, what the hell are you doing here? I thought you had gone for freedom. II She says, "Well, I didn't like it." I said, "What didn't you like?" She said, "Jane, here, I know who's my enemy and who's my friend. It's very clear. There, I was watching my back all the time because I could never quite tell." I feel that way here sometimes. When I go back home, things feel clearer to me. You know where people stand. 83


*** d Well, there you go. Is there anything else that you want to say about that whole experience? b I think a big piece of it was having somebody safe to test it out with. Being able to be in love, to say that we're committed, to make the commitment was a very safe place for me to start letting down some of my defenses and still be safe. I have to give a lot of credit to my relationship with Sue and just her encouragement. When Sue and I first got involved, she didn't see the world the same way. She was a lot more gentle. I think we were attracted to each other because I enjoyed her gentleness and she liked my edge. I did conflict and she wanted to do that but was afraid of it. I think it kind of drew us to the middle. Now she does conflict pretty well and now I do conflict in a more gentle way. So we both kind of pulled to the middle around that. d So the relationship gave you that space, practice room. B I'm not very good at fragmenting things off. The relationship did. spirituality did. Therapy did. Friendships did. It was a big package deal and if one piece had been missing. I don't know. I think our relationship was a major piece. It really was a big piece. *** end of cov4 84


Jan age 50 June 9, 1994 cov5 Setting Jan and I met in the conference room where we both work. We have been acquainted for a little over a year. Synopsis Jan has said that the most important thing in her life is her family. She tells how she married her husband, about their divorce, and about how she feels today about her family, her children. J Like I said the most importarit thing I feel that happened in my life was my getting married. d When did that happen? When did you get married? J January 28, 1961. d Wow. Did you guys have a long courtship? J I knew him, from the day I met him to the day I married him I knew him two months. He swept me off my feet. I fell for him in a big way. I liked him a lot. 85


d What made it happen so fast, you think? J The biggest thing that made it happen so fast was, my whole life I wanted out and when he offered to take me out ofit quicker than we'd planned on, well, I took him up on it. Something happened. Do you want to explain what happened? d If you're comfortable doing that. J Yeah, I'm comfortable. It's okay. My mother was an alcoholic and my honie life was pretty rough. It was hard to concentrate, to do school work, to do anything and one day I came home from school and my mother had herself locked. up in our apartment and she was passed out. She wouldn't let me in. I called her husband. He came. He couldn't get in. Finally called the police and they came and broke in and she had totally destroyed the apartment, took all of his clothes, ripped them up, poured catchup on them or whatever, destroyed some of my stuff and the police looked at me and said, "If you have any place to go, pack your bags and go." I had no place to go except my boyfriend. I called him. He immediately came and got me and his folks took me in. d How old were you then? J Sixteen. d You were still in high school? 86


J And, he lived up here in north Denver and I was going down to Cathedral. He let me have his car so I could drive to school. They put me up on the couch, because they had a big family, but they still took me in, they fed me and took care of me. And it was such a hassle to do anything and so he just fmally says, "Why don't we get married now instead of waiting?" d How old was he then? J He turned twenty-one January thirteenth but he proposed before he turned twenty-one. And so I said, "Okay, I'd love to." at that time I was madly in love. And here was my way of getting out of the situation. d And so it was really, if I'm not being presumptuous, it was really kind of an escape from your home life. J I can look back on it now and see that clear as a bell but the thing of it is, I felt I loved him and so I felt it was a good thing to do. But as I look back now; also, I have no idea, I don't think, what love is or how it should feel. d What do you think love meantto you then? I mean retrospectively. H Well, the best way I can explain that is shortly after we were married, you know I argue a little bit, we would have our arguments and I'd storm out of the house. Okay he's going to come get me. He'll find me. He'll bring me home. And that's what I wanted him to do. I was always 87


looking for ways for him to prove that he loved me. I'm always looking for somebody to prove th_at what they say about me they mean. They like me, or because my mother would say she would love me but then she'd do these terrible things. So what in the hell was love anyway? Pain? That's what I learned to associate love with was pain. And so he would never come after me. Of course him being twenty-one years old he was a lot more mature than I was. So he helped me grow up a little in that respect. But I would say I was looking for anybody, for him especially, to prove that I meant -everything to him. And the way he could do that was by giving in to my little whims. *** d You're not married to him now? J Hm-umh. d How -long were you guys married? J Almost twenty-three years. -d That's a long time. J Like I said, he was a charmer. And he never decided to give that up I guess. d That's really hard. When did you realize that being married to him was really important to you, the most important thing. Has it always been the most important thing? Or _was that something that you've, that you gave 88


importance, has it grown over time or was it like that on the day you packed up and left? J I can't think of anything that was more important to me. d Than getting out? J Than marrying him. I don't know if it's the getting out part or getting married or if it was the combination of the two. I was an only child, so I didn't have no one else had to worry about it. *** J Did you know what you wanted to do with your life when you left? d Well, I thought I did then. J Well I mean at the time you did, right? So I mean you had some idea of what you wanted to do with your life, goal in mind. I had, I didn't, I didn't. d Just being married, that was? J That's what I wanted to be. d What was it about being married that was special? J I wanted a family. d Babies? J A family. Whether it meant having kids, yes I wanted to have kids. In fact I wanted to have a kid right away and I did have a kid right away. Two months after we were married I got pregnant. And that to me was 89


real important. I'd finally have something, and I had seen this written in books elsewhere I finally would have something that I could love that's all my own and nobody could take it away from me. It was mine. And then as the family grew, that also became the most important thing to me. And today, of course, that's the most important thing to me. d Is family? J Is the family. To provide for them a stable family home life like I never had. I was fortunate that I could stay home and be a mom. And I liked all the cooking, the baking, the house cleaning, the going to the PTA, the going to the school games, all that stuff. I thrived: I just loved it. *** d So even though, even though you didn't have a strong connection with your mother, you knew that, that connection became important to you, to have a family, to be a part of a family, not only to be cared for and have somebody show you that they loved you but, to love-J I wanted my kids to know that they were loved and that I was there anytime I was needed, that I'd be there. *** end cov5 90


Sandy age:54 6/9/94 cov3 Setting Sandy and I met in the conference room at work. I have known Sandy for just over two years. She was my supervisor when I started with the company. Synopsis Sandy has said that her children are the most important thing in her life. Our interview was interrupted by tape recorder problems. The complete transcript is provided. d You had said earlier that the most important thing in you life was your children. Is that still true? S Yes. d Tell me the story about your children and how they are the most important thing in your life. S They are the most important thing in my life because of the things they have individually achieved. 91


d Really! Now your kids are twenty something. How old are your kids now? S Michael will be twenty-three and Heidi just turned twenty-seven. Heidi was selected when she was in, she started out in grade school being in special gifted programs. And then in her sophomore year in college she was selected in the entire nation for a latin exam that she had taken. Michael has always been a very good and he graduated third in his entire high school class and then received a scholarship to go to college. d He graduated from? S Carnegie Mellon College d He went to a Jesuit high school. S Regis High School. d Did he also graduate well from Carnegie? S Not as well as he did from high schooL d What is it about their achievements that's important? *** tape recording problem discovered and tape restarted *** 92


d You had said something about achievement was a sign of success. We were talking and trying to get at success. Achievement helps a person become? S More secure and positive in their own life and have, I think, a feeling of self-worth. And then we talked about the children achieving academic things and that brought out the point where, I think it goes back a generation because, neither of my parents graduated from high school and they both strongly encouraged my sister and I to do well in school. So I think there was always sort of a goal atmosphere that developed within my life from the way I was brought up as a child and I think that sort of transferred by myself to my children, to our children. d Your parents, both your parents had worked with you and your sister to do school work. Did they work with you on other stuff as well? Was there things outside of school that you worked on with your parents ... goals that were set? S My sister and I were exceedingly sickly children we lived a very protected life only because they questioned if we were going to live and they were married nine years and never had any children and then we came along. So, if I recall goals it was more, encouragement to eat and to gain health and to get strong. That was a thing that was a big. thing in my sister's and our growing up. In fact we were so sickly we never even 93

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went to kindergarten. We only went to first grade because we needed time to try to get healthy. d So, coming from a family where yol.Ir parents, neither one had graduated from high school, and you and your sister were the first to graduate from college, you saidS What was interesting was, when we graduated from high school, are father sold insurance policies to pay for our first year of college. We knew that was a fairly substantial monetary sacrifice that our parents made for us to go to school. And, he had a brother and my mother had a cousin who were really negative about us going to college because we were quote girls and what were we going to but get and education and get married and never use it. So I admire our parents in that their family never gave them support to encourage them to send us off to school. That was something that they did on their own. d So the family expectation was that girls didn't need to go to college because you were just going to get married and have babies anyway. S That's exactly right. d Did you go to work after you got out of college? S Yes. d Was that before you got married? 94

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S Yes. My sister and I co-opted through college so we went five years and the very first year we had to make grades and that was a full school year like other colleges and then the last four years were year round and we worked seven weeks and then went to school seven weeks and only had a three week break in summer time, as vacation. And then we earned our degrees and then, after I graduated I went to work for a CPA firm. And I worked there for one full year before I got married. After I got married I worked three years before I had our first child. So I wound up working four years. d So graduating from college was really a personal achievement for you. S It was a personal achievement. But maybe it was a family achievement too. Wlien your the first one in your family to ever graduate, it makes you feel a little bit like you achieved more than if it was expected of you because every other family member had done this before. So my sister and I sort of set a pattern. We weren't just following in a family. d And you came from Midwestern or Eastern working class? S As I told you before, my mother was an artist for Gibson Greeting Card Company and then. There were health hazards working there. The paint got into people's lungs and many people could not stand to work there terribly long. My mother became ill and left that job and went to work for the telephone company and she was a telephone operator. My father 95

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worked at the telephone company and he worked at the telephone company the entire time that he worked. Starting before he was sixteen and then he worked there until he was sixty-five. So yes it was really a blue collar working-class family that I grew up in. d So it probably felt good to have you kids go to college and start their lives. And are either of your kids married yet? S Yes. My daughter is married and she's been married for six years and she has just mow finished college and she has .started her career. d This has been unusually abbreviated. Is there anything else that you would want to say about what's been important in your life? S To me, for the rest of my life, the thing that I think eludes most people is happiness, so if I had a wish for my immediate family is happiness for all of them. d What does that mean, happiness? S That you're content and happy in what you're doing and where you are. That really right now, to me is what I think would be the most important thing for the rest of our lives. d Well, Sandy, thank you end cov6 96

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Denis age: 44 6/10/94 cov7 Setting Denis and I met at his home one day after work. He and I have know each other for about eight months. Synopsis Denis relates the story of his mother's death and how it freed him up to love. D You know I've been thinking about that on and off, about what's the most meaningful, it's kind of hard to isolate somewhere as one event out of so many. But I think probably, When you say one event or one period of time in your life or what? d It's kind of like how it fits together for you. A number of people, they say that there's one thing but it fits into several things over a number of years. There may be two or three events that are connected for them. So it's easier, I guess I'm looking more for your definition of what's important than for mine. So if there's a couple of things that have 97

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happened that you feel are connected, I'll go with that. If there's one thing that you want to nail down or, one guy told me he had to tell me the second most important thing in his life, but in telling me that, then we found out what. he thought was the most important. D Probably the most important event that's occurred in my life is the death of my mother, in terms of its impact on me. And, it was probably the process of how she died that was so important in terms of an event in m life. *** We had fmally gotten her out of the hospital and back home and I spent, lily step-father and I spent the next five to six days taking care of her because she was totally helpless and incapacitated. I think one of the things I learned that was the most important is that we're not our bodies .. d As a person you mean? That the person is not the body. D Yeah. We'rejust not our bodies. In the end we're not. Because I saw her deteriorate. There was still a real dignity about her, even though her body was slowly going and slowly deteriorating and not, not functioning as it should. And it was interesting to have the role reversal that occurred. Where she had taken care of me as a child, I was taking care of her. I mean literally cleaning her diapers because she was losing all body function, especially toward the end, the last week. So I felt like I 98

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was repaying a debt to her. And that was really important to have that experience. d To be able to do that for her? D And another thing that was a byproduct of that was my stepfather and I became closer. He and I had a very distant and at times. I'd been pissed at him most of my life. d How long has he been your step-father? D Since I was about six years old. d Was that from a divorce? D Yeah. And he was a ragmg alcoholic for the first ten years of their marriage. And then stopped drinking and .then was a rage-aholic because he was so pissed that he had to quit drinking. So through our trying to take care of her, we became closer through that experience. *** D Yeah, although she and I were close anyway. It made us closer in some new ways. The role reversal was one way. That was as I mentioned, real powerful. To see life full circle in a way, through her. To know she really appreciated it. When she was in the hospital, they had stopped the chemotherapy because it just made her worse. As a matter of fact, they should never have even started it because the kind of cancer she had there 99

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was no cure for, and it still makes me angry but, she was trying to live, she was prolonging her agony to help the nurses feel better. d Really? D Yeah. She was that much of a caretaker. I knew her well enough to know that when she was in the hospital the week or two before she was released. I knew she was dying. Everyone knew she was dying. She even knew it although it was hard for her admit it. It was hard for my step-father to admit then. But, they stopped the chemo. There was nothing more they coulddo. But she, they were doing things like keeping her electrolytes up and keeping her hydrated. They did all those kinds of things. And then she would put on this frontin order to make people think things were okay, that she wasn't in as much pain as she was in. I had to fight to get her released and into a hospice program. I won't get into all the details of that but, as soon as we got her home, and we brought her home in an and on a stretcher, she couldn't walk by then, you could just see her and feel her relax. It was powerful. d Did you guys get to talk about that process, together, you and your mom and your step-father? D You know, morphine is an interesting drug in that it, I don't know if you've spent any time with someone on morphine, but if they're medicated effectively with morphine, they kind of go in and out and 100

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sometimes they hallucinate. So, it's difficult to carry on a rational conversation. The thing that I was able to do is, she knew she was dying and she and I would talk about that. And, [very long pause here as Denis begins to cry and takes time to regain his composure.] I would say, "It's okay for you to die." and, that seemed to help. But no, we didn't have these long philosophical discussions about the meaning of death, necessarily. *** It was very intimate. We didn't talk about, we didn't resolve things. There was no loose ends tied up, necessarily about passed conflicts hurts or things like that because we'd done a lot of that because we'd done a lot of that already, before we knew she was ill. I even lived back in Chicago for nine But when I had gone back we talked, we talked over the telephone. A lot of those kind of things were already resolved. So mostly our time together at the end was when she was lucid, was just being quiet. *** d You had suggested that this had greater impact in you life. Ninety-two, that's not that long ago. Has the experience of living and loving with and caring for your mother, has made a difference in your life? D Yeah, I think it freed me up to love someone, because it was not one month later that I met Laura. *** My mother's dying caused things to shift for me in terms of my ability, well, first of all, I saw how 101

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important, I experienced how important it is to love someone and to hang in there with them, because it was hard. d It almost seems like when you, and I'm not sure that I've achieved that yet but it seems like that when we reach a place that we can love somebody unconditionally so that there's no strings attached at all. It enriches it somehow. But I'm not sure what thatis. But it sure make relationship different when you get to that place. D Yeah, I think I had that unconditional aspect with my mother. I don't have it with anybody else right now I certainly had it with my mother, especially at the end. So something shifted for me at that point. I still don't have it totally clarified but I do know that once I had that .experience with her, and witnessed and participated in her death, something freed up in me about being able to love someone. d That's interesting that is the connection you make .. I like it. It sounds real. D It was very real and I can't say exactly what shifted then; I may get it over time. I still don't know it yet. But it did make everything that much more important to really be fully involved, because I witnessed how real death is. I mean when you're in the same room with someone the moment that they die and you hear their last breath. It brings it home to you. 102

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*** D For me the implication is not that she had to die in order for me to love another woman. It's more like, witnessing the process of death and in some ways it could have been anyone. It didn't have to be her. Although with it being her, made it much more powerful but, being witness to that and participating in it freed me up. Because if she knew what was going on with me right now she would be incredibly happy. In her life the best thing I could have ever done was to get married and have a child. That would have made her incredibly happy. d That's what you needed. D That's what I needed, according to her. d So now it's all happening. D Now it's all happening and she's not around. *** end cov7 103

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