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Durham e-Theses
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“Same but different”: A visual ethnography of the everyday lives of siblings with autistic children in South Korea

Hwang, Se Kwang (2009) “Same but different”: A visual ethnography of the everyday lives of siblings with autistic children in South Korea. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This study explores the ordinary daily lives of siblings of autistic children in South Korea and draws on four theoretical perspectives: social psychological, young carers, the new sociology of childhood and cross-cultural. Building on knowledge of sibling’s of autistic and other disabled children in western context, I used techniques of visual ethnography to extend understanding of the everyday lives of children with autistic siblings. Nine children, aged between aged 7 and 15, in two South Korean cities were given cameras to make 'video diaries' and 'home movies' over a two week period. This was followed by reviewing sessions with the researcher to discuss the films and invitations to prepare further, age appropriate, visual representations of family life. Interviews were also held with nine mothers and two fathers to elicit their understandings of the expectations and experiences of the child participants. Despite the modernising effects of globalisation in South Korea, the values and normative expectations of Confucian familism still provided firm foundations for family life and family expectations. Reflected by limited support from the State or voluntary organisations, the children carried important responsibilities for their autistic siblings. Important insights into their ordinary daily lives included: i) 'sacrifice' as a key part of the fulfilment of filial obligation across the life span, ii) children conceptualized their relationships with their autistic siblings as 'same but different' from those of other children; iii) the children and their autistic siblings developed 'Jeong' (strong interpersonal ties) and 'Woori’ (togetherness) that are typical of sibling relationships in Korea, iv) high value was placed on 'harmonious family life' with significant implications for the siblings' daily lives, v) autism was integrated as part of everyday life despite experiences of stigmatising attitudes and vi) invisible vulnerabilities were reinforced by the strength of traditional expectations that discouraged consideration of die 'costs' of’ being a good sibling’. The voices and world views of the children in this study lead to the conclusion that Confucian familist values represent a source of strength as well as challenges for the siblings of autistic children in South Korea.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:25

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