Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Victoria Gaines

for the Degree of Master of Science

on August 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM in Clement Hall

Advisor: Carol Rambo

The Social Side of "Borderline:" Edgework in the Narrative Accounts of Self-injurers

ABSTRACT: Eleven in-depth life history interviews with respondents who identified as former self-injurers and a thematic analysis of the existing qualitative literature on self-injury constitute the data for this research. Self-injury, a growing public health concern, has typically been framed by researchers as an individual level, psychological, phenomenon with largely negative connotations. Edgework, a theoretical orientation which has been used to explain voluntary risk-taking such as skydiving and mountain climbing, has been applied to the activity of self-injury. The interviews and qualitative research on self-injury were coded for the presence of edgework as a vocabulary of motive for engagement in the activity. Framed as edgework, this distinctly sociological approach casts self-injury as a socially produced phenomenon which can be viewed as a reaction to oversocialization/alienation, a way to regulate negative internal conversation, a bid for self-actualization, realization, and determination, and more. Through edgework theory, self-injury can be understood to "make sense" at times.