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Religion and the Interactive Construction of Parent-Child Identity

Nastassia Isis Johnson


Brian G. Ellis


Marjorie Harness Goodwin

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 41


This paper provides a case study of one middle class family in which religion plays an important role, guiding the family’s routines, interactions, and values. We will first discuss how religion matters in the life course of a particular family, describing how it impacts health, education, and recreational activities. Another noteworthy feature of this family is that the mother, nicknamed “The General” by her family, is renown for her no-nonsense attitude towards enforcement of her family directives, actions that get work done in the family. Next we analyze a specific interaction concerning religion to investigate how an eight-year old child and his parents build their social identities interactively. We ask what is the shape of interactions that children have with adults in their quest to come to know the world and the shape of social categories in it? We adopt a process-oriented (Burleson, et al. 1995; Carsten 2000;.Kirby, et al. 2002; Sillars 1995; Wood 1986) approach to examine the actual practices used by members to constitute the family.

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