Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

The use of metaphors in Narrative Research in exploring and describing experiences of adolescent male orphans affected by HIV and AIDS

Juanita Loubser, Julian C. Müller
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 2 | a1009 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i2.1009 | © 2011 Juanita Loubser, Julian C. Müller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 December 2010 | Published: 10 November 2011

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Juanita Loubser, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Julian C. Müller, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article relates to the primary study which aimed at addressing uncertainties about the type and nature of the relationship between the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and adolescent male orphans affected by this disease and all its aspects, such as poverty, exposure to crime and stigmatisation, and the lack of parental figures – more specifically, the absence of the father figure. Subsequently, this study aimed at dissecting the orphan’s life experiences in the midst of HIV and AIDS and explored ways in which these experiences influence his sexual and power relations with women and his role as future father and husband in the absence of a father figure (or male role model). Moreover, the researcher explored ways in which these past and future narratives influence or affect the male orphan’s view of and relationship with God, or whether it is rather this view of and relationship with God that influence and affect his relationship with his past narrative and writing of his future narratives. Research methods from the qualitative and case study research design and, more specifically, from postfoundational practical theology and narrative therapy, were employed in exploring the above issues. With the use of the metaphor of Tree of Life and the David narrative, the researcher journeyed with the co-researchers in the construction of a preferred alternative narrative, which in turn functions as a guiding metaphor for aspiring to the future and living their lives in a preferred and satisfying manner. Therefore this article explains the use of these metaphors during the seven movements of Postfoundational Practical Theology and shows how these metaphors succeeded in assisting the co-researchers with externalising aspects of their problem-saturated narratives, identifying unique outcomes amidst these narratives, and developing alternative narratives that serve as a vehicle for change and creating hope amidst a context of seeming despair.


Narrative Research; HIV and AIDS; adolescent male orphans


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