Again another solution by "Daddykins”: Socializing family roles in narrative

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American Association for Applied Linguistics


A study analyzed the dinner-table discourse in a Caucasian-American, upper-middle-class two-parent family with children aged seven (female) and eight (male) for evidence of how family narrative practices socialize children into family, social, and cultural membership. It is also proposed that discourse in families both indexes and constitutes particular social roles and identities assumed by family members. It was found that the roles and identities of problem-solver, incompetent, and entertainer were co-constructed, resisted, and reconstituted in the course of an everyday narrative. It is suggested, further, that this process reconstitutes social hierarchies that privilege men over women and parents over children at a macro level, despite resistance at the micro level. It is concluded that the study illustrates how roles are first acquired and later maintained in the stream of talk through specific narrative strategies, and how in turn those roles become implicated in co-constructed relationships of unequal power distribution, reinforcing the notion that power is not static but must be continuously sustained and negotiated in ongoing discourse.


Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (18th, Chicago, IL, March 23-26, 1996).