Individual-Group Dynamics in a 12-Step Fellowship: Identification, Service, and Recovery in Overeaters Anonymous

Powers, Erin. 2014. "Individual-Group Dynamics in a 12-Step Fellowship: Identification, Service, and Recovery in Overeaters Anonymous." PhD Dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Washington.

Committee: 
Edgar Kiser (Co-Chair), Steve Pfaff (Co-Chair), Denise Walker (GSR), Jerald Herting.

Self-help/mutual-aid groups, relative to other forms of voluntary association, continue to thrive. Many of these groups follow the 12-Step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. One such organization is the fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous, a group for those with a desire to stop compulsively overeating and/or recover from other eating disorders. I analyze this group using mixed methods and relying on data I collected primarily from 2010 to 2012, including 151 participant surveys, 16 group surveys, 30 interviews, and 366 discrete observations of 21 OA groups (i.e., meetings) located in a large Pacific Northwest city. In this dissertation, I explore 12-Step groups as sociological phenomena, addressing identification processes, the effects of costly behavioral dictates on group members, and the diverse determinants and types of recovery experienced by members.

People Involved: 
Status of Research: 
Completed/published
Research Type: