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Socialization for the Competitive Spirit and Excellence: A Case Study

Marjorie Harness Goodwin

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 47


In her discussion of work that might complement studies of observable patterns of time use, Lareau (2002: 748) argues that we should investigate the lived experiences of participants involved in fostering advantages to children. Such a concern is in tune with researchers investigating the work/family interface who argue that to understand family dynamics, it is important to focus explicitly on social process. This paper provides a case study of the language practices through which children are apprenticed into a culture that values the competitive spirit, as well as excellence in academic endeavors. I explore conversations across a range of activities through which parents and children in one particular family engage with one another in talk about competition, and parents act as coaches during leisure activities and test preparation.

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