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Orders, Accounts, and the Culture of Control: Directive in Parent-Child Relationships

Sarah Press

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 21


Using models of analysis from linguistics, socio-linguistics, and social psychology, this paper analyzes video data from the everyday, ordinary interactions of two Los Angeles middle-class families at home. It posits two contrasting approaches to directive use and socialization: the “quick-fix” direct style, and the ‘learning-oriented’ indirect style. These approaches are characterized by their use (or lack of use) of informational accounts, as well as the semantic form directive utterances themselves take. The effects on children, parents, and the development of a family culture of autonomy or control are discussed.

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