After years of scholarly debate, both our arguments and counterarguments regarding African American family life in urban communities continue to be driven by ideological positions rather than concrete reality. More emphasis has been placed on broader sociocultural issues and deleterious outcomes than on the everyday lived experience. Thus, the high level characterizations offered by scholars and the concrete realities of families have often appeared disconnected. To advance our understanding of the African American family living in urban America, we must deal with this conceptual disconnect. This hermeneutic phenomenological study explored the nature of the family-community relationship as a means to understand the lived experience of "home" within this context. It treated the narratives of 11 high school students as another school of thought regarding the phenomenon. These narratives explicitly and implicitly captured the family-community relationship within this context via storytelling, interviews and participant observation. Two critical insights emerged from this interpretive process. The first was the public nature of family within the urban African American context. Here the family-community relationship came to be understood through the notion of intersections versus the historical notion of boundaries. The second was the public nature of the urban African American family and the implications of this essence for how families understand themselves and their relationship with the broader society. In each of these cases, the assumption of the public-private dichotomy in family theory was brought into question. New metaphors for understanding family life in this context are considered and future theoretical, research, practice and policy streams are explored.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.January 2013. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Paul Rosenblatt, PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 153 pages.
Collins Sims, Cherie M..
Towards a “new way of thinking” about African American family life in urban neighborhoods.
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