Black American Family Life Histories: An Ethnographic Study




Thornton, Kimberly A.

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This ethnographic study built upon the tenets of critical race theory and intersectionality theory while documenting the stories of six participants across three generations in a single Black American family unit. The study findings focused on preserving the strength, history, and family culture. Research questions were: (1) What are the life histories of six family members across generations in a Black American family? (2) How can the study framework shed light on the participants’ life histories? (3) How does family history inform cultural identity and family learning in multiple generations of a Black American family? Data collection included episodic narrative interviews, artifacts, family memory books, and researcher journal. Coffey’s (2018) five phases for data analysis of ethnographic data were utilized. The themes that emerged from the study revealed participants’ unwavering commitment, value education, perseverance and vision of possibilities. This study documented the strength and resilience of three generations in the same Black American family by informing cultural identity across generations and the connections to society and culture systems. An important contribution made by this dissertation is the utilization of critical race theory as a familial tool to analyze, document, and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of the Black American family. This example can be used at different educational levels (elementary to university level) to help the future generations make sense of their heritage and daily life happenings living as a Black American.



Black American family, Ethnographic, Life histories


Thornton, K. A. (2022). <i>Black American family life histories: An ethnographic study</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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