Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ellen A. Herda

Second Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Third Advisor

Betty Taylor


Research Topic

This critical hermeneutic research study explores ethical meanings during a time of dual-generation care and how these interpretations may affect one's view of family life across generations. The research participants in this study were adults situated between young children and dependent elders, who are also termed the "sandwich generation" (Brody 1981; Soldo 1996). By reexamining notions of self and others through narrative, one may see life anew from an ontological perspective not considered beforehand. Through narrative about moments of familial care, new understandings about personal meanings emerge which may or may not have changed over time. From this study's conversations, participants came to see how carrying out an ethical life may be seen as part of a broader family legacy, influenced by their ethnic background, culture, faith tradition, or entirely new personal interpretations.

Theory and Protocol

Critical hermeneutic theory of Paul Ricoeur (1984; 1988; 1992; 2005) formed the basis of the theory applied to this study with emphasis upon areas related to temporality, ethics, and recognition. This field research followed an interpretive anthropological approach outlined by Herda (1999) that includes protocol for the study's data analysis using three theoretical categories used to bring forth findings and implications.

Research Categories

In this study, guiding questions related to three critical hermeneutic categories brought forth data for analysis. The mimesis category fostered remembrances of the family from the past, as well as present actions, and future hopes. The theory area of ethical aim drew data about how one's key ethics may influence actions of care, whether with children or elders. The final category, recognition, created or renewed the caregivers respect for their role, and that of others in society with a similar plight.


Caregivers recounted stories and were often unaware of the underlying ethics that informed their actions. The telling of their story with distance and proximity of their lived experience enabled the caregivers to reinterpret their own notion of a "good" life. The following findings came forth from participant conversations: (1) Caregiving often means retracing the past in the present; actions of care are part of a larger pattern a family passes on; (2) Caregivers may be able to move from overwhelmed to seeing new capabilities; and (3) Recognition and support for caregivers helps multi-generational families. Moments of dual-generation care may be challenging, yet may also render new interpretations of ethics that offer resilience in difficult times.

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