Self-determination: The conceptualization of choice and decision-making by homeless women
Dakin, Andrea L.
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The definition of self-determination, and the applicability and relevance of that concept as it pertains to the lives of women experiencing homeless was explored. How study participants viewed self-determination was then compared to the current theoretical conceptualizations of self-determination. A purposive convenience sample of women was recruited from a transitional housing program. Data was collected through face-to-face, semi-structured, topical individual interviews with 21 women using an interview guide. Women were asked to describe their lives, what they would like their lives to be like, the housing program in which they were participating, and what the term self-determination means to them. A general thematic induction analysis was completed and a conceptualization of self-determination as defined by homeless women has emerged. Women defined themselves as self-determined. The viewed themselves as self-determined because they were independent, they made decisions, and they achieved their goals. Although women frequently made decisions from available options, to them, that required active decision making which is a sign of self-determination. Women talked about how their self-determination is shaped by personal and environmental forces, not all of which are readily apparent to them.