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Styles of Parent-Child Interaction in Directive-Response Sequences

Marjorie Harness Goodwin

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 19


As family members work together to jointly produce the meaningful events of their lives, differing forms of participation structure (Goodwin 1990; C. Goodwin and Goodwin in press) for the accomplishment of everyday activities emerge. Alternative forms of social organization in the family emerge given how families allocate speaking rights, develop structures of control (Ervin-Tripp, O’Connor and Rosenberg 1984; Blum-Kulka; Goodwin 1980 , 1990; Pontecorvo, Fasulo and Sterponi 2001) and styles of managing conflict (Goodwin 1990; Vuchinich 1990). Participants can attend to the arguments of their interlocutor in the midst of a dispute or position themselves in an authoritative position and ignore them. In providing a next move to someone’s prior talk, important moral decisions are made at each moment in time. As I have argued elsewhere (Goodwin 2003) quite distinctive forms of ethos (Bateson 1972) develop as families overlay their activities with different forms of affect. To explore some of the ways that families constitute themselves through language this paper will investigate forms of emergent structure in directive/response sequences in two different families: Family A (characterized by more hierarchical forms of social organization) and family B (in which more egalitarian styles of negotiation are observable). I hypothesize that participant structure entailed in negotiating rights and duties in the family is related to the ways that parents structure experiences for learning, which are linked to important processes of cognitive and social development (Grolnick 2003).

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