Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Learning and Teaching / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : LP140100935
The Hand Up Linkage project focuses on the family as a communication context through which to explore the dynamics of intergenerational welfare dependency. It is concerned with how persistent barriers to escaping welfare dependency are perceived and how attitudes to change are constructed through communication within the family. Interviews are conducted with families reliant on welfare support with the view of identifying ‘emotionally compelling experiences and realizations’ (King et al., 2003, p.184) through which families construct meaning about their place in the world. These interviews give voice to people experiencing the challenges and consolations of reliance on welfare, encouraging them to be active contributors to perceptions of people in need. This article explores the way one mother from a disadvantaged family is rebuilding her life despite the disadvantages of poverty, domestic violence and drug dependency. It examines her determined emotional commitment to change as she explains the barriers to change that she has experienced. As she communicates her life narrative, she builds for herself and her children an understanding of a different possible future in which she and her children have access to a more independent, positive life experience. Seligman (2006) suggests that changing self-talk helps people to escape from pessimism and move from powerlessness to autonomy and hope. This mother makes powerful declarations about her life changes with the aim of providing her children with a vision of a more hopeful future. This article contributes the often-silenced voice of a welfare-reliant woman to a discussion of different worlds of communication, and opens a window on diversities of engagement with these worlds.
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