Dale Jaffe, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department in the College of Arts & Sciences
Professor Jaffe’s latest research project, a multi-year, multi-site study, looks into the social construction of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in group homes using a combination of participant observation and in-depth interviewing. Through participant observation, Professor Jaffe was able to situate behaviors associated with dementia in a context, and interpret the meaning of these observations himself and with outsiders as well. Interviews were conducted with people living in the homes, staff members, and family members to obtain a variety of perspectives. The study focused specifically on how dementia symptoms are embedded and encouraged in care settings and caregiving relationships. Professor Jaffe highlights the importance of paying attention to the social side of Alzheimer’s and dementia and not just the biomedical science behind those labels.
“I considered myself more of a social person and I was really interested in meaning-making, and how people attach meaning to things that others say and behaviors that they observe…I thought that one of the really powerful things about doing qualitative research is the ability to contextualize observations and comments in situations. ”