Changes following adversities: the role of religious coping in the lives of homeless women of Vrindavan (India)

Rana, Neetu (2016) Changes following adversities: the role of religious coping in the lives of homeless women of Vrindavan (India). PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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There are 17,571 homeless women in Vrindavan, a major pilgrimage town in North India (State Government Report, 2012). The town is spread across 4.56 square kilometers and the number of homeless women is increasing continually (NCW, 2010). The living conditions are inadequate and the majority live below the poverty line (Rai, 2010). In the last two decades, various attempts have been made by the government and non government organizations to build physical amenities, but psychological well being remains ignored (Rana & Misra, 2010). In literature, these women have often been portrayed as the victims of various tragedies, presenting only the vulnerable side. The present thesis attempts to explore the thriving side of these women, along with the vulnerable one. This thesis aims to study the changes, following various adversities, which homeless women of Vrindavan have faced in their lifetime. The study takes a critical stance of the medical model of negative changes following adversities, and endorses the understanding offered by positive psychology. Within positive psychology, the present thesis rejects the use of the term ‘Posttraumatic Growth’ because of the medical and universal implications that the term “trauma” brings, ignoring the cultural differences. Therefore, ‘Changes Following Adversities’ is used as the preferred term.

Amongst various factors affecting changes following adversity, religious coping is one of the factors. Its significance has been studied less often than other factors such as social support, personal strengths, personality and optimism. The western perspective is still sceptical about the role of religion in changes following adversity, both methodologically and theoretically. Interestingly, with the population under study, the influence of religion was speculated to be large, because of the religious significance that Vrindavan has. Therefore, to capture the complexity of the experiences, grounded in the culture, a narrative approach was used. Thirty four life narratives were transcribed and translated for the analysis. Thematic analysis was employed to understand the changes across different participants.

Overall, the thematic analysis indicated three major themes – adversities, coping strategies and changes following adversities. There were multiple adversities faced by the participants which were based in communal riots, poverty and patriarchal subjugation. Amongst all the coping strategies, emotion focused coping, particularly religious coping, emerged as one of the dominant themes. Ideographically, there were mixed findings on adversity related changes experienced by the participants. Changes in self and philosophy were the two major positive changes reported by the participants. Mental suffering in the form of worries, grief, somatic complaints and depressogenic thoughts were found as negative changes following adversities. A model was derived from the analyses to consolidate the findings, elaborating on the cognitive and emotional processing, leading to changes following adversities.

The research has three fold implications-theoretical, methodological and practical. Theoretically, the study has implications for broadening the term trauma and post traumatic growth; using narrative to foster growth; and integrating religion in psychotherapy. Methodologically, the study has implications for cultural nuances faced while studying culturally variant populations, such as translations, and sample characteristics. The practical implications of the study indicate future interventions directed more towards wellbeing than welfare for the population under study.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hunt, N.
Thomas, S.
Keywords: Homeless women, Life change events, Psychological adjustment, Positive psychology, Role of religion, Changes following adversities
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WA Public health
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 38566
Depositing User: Rana, Neetu
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 17:24

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