The Dark Side of Online Support Groups: Conflictual Experiences in Single-Child Parents’ Facebook Groups

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Abstract

This study draws on intersectionality and reproductive identity as conceptual frameworks to investigate the motivation and experience of Israeli voluntary single-child parents in online support groups (OSGs) for the parents of only children. A qualitative analysis of 20 semi-structured interviews revealed that the social stigma attached to having one child was a significant factor in their decision to join an OSG for all single-child parents. However, once becoming members of the group, voluntary single-child parents experienced conflictual encounters with their involuntary counterparts and felt stigmatized in the OSG as well. This led them to create their own OSG exclusively for voluntary single-child parents. The interviewees coped with their conflictual OSG membership experience by “cruising” between the two OSGs in a search for social support. Membership in both groups enabled them to gain support for the two distinct components of their reproductive identity: reproductive status; and reproductive decision-making. The findings extend the conceptual framework of intersectionality to OSG research, demonstrating how the interplay between multiple stigmatized identities shapes OSG options, choices, and experiences.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • intersectionality
  • online support groups
  • reproductive identity
  • single-child parents
  • stigma

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications

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