Exploring relational ethics and care: A longitudinal study of a Hong Kong cellist’s marriage disintegration and identity change

Annabella S.K. Fung

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    I am a survivor of divorce. When I visited Hong Kong, a mutual friend introduced me to a cellist going through a divorce as a participant for my research which investigates music learning and identity of Chinese musicians. My research took a different path because I decided to explore how she constructed meaning through divorce, leading to her identity change. I referred her to counselling and supported her through regular messaging. Research is more than just data collection; the wounded-healer standing by the wounded is therapeutic for both of us. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), this study reports our conversations, including two face-to-face semi-structured interviews and messaging over eighteen months. Four themes emerged about the cellist’s understanding of her marital conflict: an urge for financial security and materialistic pursuit; faith abandonment; prioritizing children’s education and parenthood; and diverging lives. This longitudinal study explored relational ethics, researcher care and research as emancipation. It acknowledged the freedom and choice-making responsibility of the researcher who extended the project boundary to improve the wellbeing of the participant. This is the essence of qualitative research, with unanticipated life-changing consequences that transform the researcher, the participant, and global readers who share a similar experience.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2
    Pages (from-to)12-28
    Number of pages17
    JournalThe Qualitative Report
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


    • Identity change
    • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
    • Marriage disintegration
    • Relational ethics and care
    • Research as emancipation

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