The Word Feel as an Indicator of Enacted Social Support in Personal Relationships

  •  Kelly Doell    


The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning attributed to the word feel and how people make sense of
its use in their communication across their social network. The findings showed that the function of the word feel,
in its basic form, was to emotionally self-disclose or to inquire about the private inner experiences of others.
However, discursive rules dictated that it was not appropriate for all relationships. Most participants reported an
open use in interdependent and supportive personal relationships. These relationships are portrayed as the most
trustworthy and, through using the word feel, a source of well-being via the opportunities they provide to be
cathartic and socially intimate. By contrast, the use of feel in relationships defined by dependence and
vulnerability was perceived as being social risky. The word feel is portrayed as a potential indicator of enacted
social support and a possible leverage point for interventions in social support.

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