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Affect, Participation Structure and Occasioned Knowledge Exploration in Family Interaction

Marjorie Harness Goodwin

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 15


This paper discusses how family members collaboratively structure activities of occasioned knowledge exploration, moments when opportunities for exploring new ideas and vocabulary spontaneously arise in the midst of everyday activity. As family members work together to jointly produce the meaningful events of their lives, alternative forms of participation structure (Goodwin and Goodwin in press; Goodwin 1990) for the accomplishment of everyday activities emerge. Learning can be a joyful, collaboratively constructed exploration of new ideas overlaid with humor, or a joyless, solitary and punitive experience of drills overlaid with threats. Family members have options for treating the talk of others as consequential and implicative for further talk or largely irrelevant. In providing a next move to someone's prior talk, important moral decisions are made at each moment in time. Quite distinctive forms of participation develop as families overlay their activities with different forms of affect.

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