An exploration of albino identity amongst groups of teenaged girls at a special school in KwaZulu-Natal, South African.
A qualitative study probing Albino Identity amongst groups of teenaged girls at a special school in order to find out if a group identity based in Albinism exists. An exploratory research design allowed the researcher to explore the worldview from the participant's perspective. The method of investigation used three focus groups of four participants each to explore the psycho-social constructs that defined the shared reality of the participants as a group because of medical condition. Personal accounts from the participants facilitated the exploration of their perception through homogenous focus groups. This study had four objectives. The first objective was to examine how the social identity shapes the personal identity of the participants with Albinism. The second objective was to explore and identify common social experiences that the participants shared which have meaning for them in order to better understand their personal reality as a group. The third objective was to understand how social constructs contribute to defining the personal reality of the participants. The fourth objective of this study was to explore the psychosocial reality of Albino Identity as a shared group identity. The data yielded from the three focus groups was analysed using Thematic Analysis. Themes that emerged from the focus group were grouped into three broad heading namely Differentiation Based On a Lack Of Pigmentation, Treated Differently Because of Colour and Albinism Changes Social Interaction. The study's findings show that the social identity changes the personal identity in the same way. The participants share the same experiences with the social identity due to the lack of pigmentation. The participant's personal identity is altered through social interaction with the group mind. Social interaction with social constructs such as family and peers were more meaningful to the participants than with strangers. Albino Group Identity does exist and has value for the participants because it creates a sense of belonging and community for the participants outside of their family. Participants also reported being more comfortable around large numbers of Albinos because there is an absence of threat and hostility, giving the participants more security and acceptance. Members of the identity group based in Albinism regards the lack of pigmentation as a norm. This study has identified several group norms observed by its group members of Albino Group Identity. Safety concerns regarding the sun is a group norm along with dressing for the sun. Group members also reconstitute their behaviour to accommodate the social identity. The group strive for normality is the antithesis to the myths based in the collective unconscious. Albino Group Identity also demands the resolution of an identity crisis that is based in the colour that is created by Albinism. The findings of this study allows for practical adaptation of group therapy with learners with Albinism who present with maladaptive behaviour patterns. Future research in the area of group identity amongst persons with Albinism is recommended.
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