Choice of Directives in Spontaneous Family Interaction

  • Erica Huls


In discussions about the factors that might influence social inequality in school and society, it is suggested that a central role is played by the formulations through which behavior is regulated in families of different socio-economic background. In the late sixties and the early seventies, the British educational sociologist Basil Bernstein devoted a lot of his theoretical writings to this idea. His contribution to the discussion however has been rather fruitless. A lack of clarity in his writings and the unelaborated character of his ideas in the first phase were, among other things, important factors that gave rise to a polemic discussion (the difference-deficit controversy, involving e.g. Labov (1972a), Dittmar (1976), Bereiter and Engelmann (1967) and Bernstein (1973), which was hindered by mutual misunderstandings. On this point I won’t go into finer details, nor try to say the final word. The only thing that really matters is the problem which Bernstein raised. His ‘theory’ focusses on differences in the ‘communicative capacities’ of children, which he tried to explain in terms of a total theory of social structure. The value of this part of his work is acknowledged by others, e.g. as early as 1972 by Hymes (1972a), and in the eighties by Hudson (1980). It is a pity that this central idea has until now elicited so little empirical research. The question which immediately comes to mind, then, is: why hasn’t there been more research on this topic?


Major Type Social Inequality Propositional Content Question Directive Communicative Competence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bereiter, C., and Engelmann, S., 1966, Teaching disadvantaged children in the preschool, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Bernstein, B., 1960, Language and social class, British Journal of Sociology, XI, pp. 271 - 276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernstein, B., 1973, Class, codes and control, vol. 1: theoretical studies towards a sociology of language, St. Albans Herts: Paladin.Google Scholar
  4. Brunt, L, ed., 1977, Anders bekeken: wet en werkelijkheid in sociaal onderzoek, Meppel: Boom.Google Scholar
  5. Chomsky, N., 1965, Aspects of the theory of syntax, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dittmar, N., 1976, Sociolinguistics; a critical survey of theory and application, London: Arnold.Google Scholar
  7. Edwards, A.D „ 1976, Language in culture and class, London:Heinmann. Ervin-Tripp, S., 1976, Is Sybil there? The structure of some American English directives, Language in Society, 5, pp.Google Scholar
  8. 25-.
  9. Ervin-Tripp, S., and Mitchell-Kernan, C., eds., 1977, Child discourse, London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  10. Garvey, C., 1975, Requests and responses in children’s speech, Journal of child language, 2, pp. 41 - 63.Google Scholar
  11. Gumperz, J.J., and Hymes, D., eds., 1964, The ethnography of communication, American Antropologist, 66, special publication.Google Scholar
  12. Gumperz, J.J., and Hymes, D., eds., 1972, Directions in sociolinguistics: the ethnography of communication, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  13. Hess, R.D., and Shipman, V.C., 1965, Early experience and the socialization of cognitive modes in children, Child development, 36.Google Scholar
  14. Hess, R.D., and Shipman, V.C., 1967, Cognitive elements in maternal behavior, in Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, vol. 1, J.P. Hill, ed., pp. 57 - 81, Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hudson, R.A., 1980, Sociolinguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Huls, E., 1982, Taalgebruik in het gezin en sociale ongelijkheid; een interactioneel sociolinguistisch onderzoek, proefschrift Nijmegen: eigen beheer.Google Scholar
  17. Hymes, D., 1962, The ethnography of speaking, in Anthropology and human behavior, Gladwin T. and Sturtevant W.C., eds., pp. 13 - 53, Washington D.C.: Anthropological Society of Washington.Google Scholar
  18. Hymes, D., 1964, Formal discussion, in The acquisition of language, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Bellugi U. and Brown R., eds., 29, 1 pp. 107 - 112.Google Scholar
  19. Hymes, D., 1967, Models of the interaction of language and social setting, Journal of Social Issues, 23, 2, pp. 8 - 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hymes, D., 1972a, Introduction, in Functions of language in the classroom, Cazden C.B., John V.P. and Hymes D., eds., New York, London: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hymes, D., 1972b, On communicative competence, in Sociolinguistics, Pride J.B. and Holmes J., eds., pp. 269 - 293, Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  22. Labov, W., 1972a, Language in the inner city, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania PRess.Google Scholar
  23. Labov, W., 1972b, Sociolinguistic Patterns, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  24. Labov, W., and Fanshel, D., 1977, Therapeutic discourse, London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Schegloff, E., 1968, Sequencing in conversational openings, American Anthropologist, 70, pp. 1075 - 1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Searle, J.R., 1975, Indirect speech acts, in Syntax and semantics vol. 3: speech acts, Cole P. and Morgan J.L., eds., pp. 59 - 82, New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  27. Searle, J.R., 1976, A classification of illocutionary acts, LanguageGoogle Scholar
  28. in Society, 5, pp. 1-23.Google Scholar
  29. Sinclair, J.McH, and Coulthard, R.M., 1972, Towards an analysis of discourse; the English used by teachers and pupils, London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Sudnow, D., ed., 1972, Studies in social interaction, New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  31. Templin, M.C., 1957, Certain language skills in children: their development and interrelationships, Minneapolis: The university of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  32. Turner, G.J., 1973, Social class and children's language of control at age five and age seven, in Class, codes and control, vol. 2: Applied studies towards a sociology of language,Google Scholar
  33. Bernstein B., ed., pp. 93-119, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  34. Turner, R., ed., 1974, Ethnomethodology, Harmondsworth, England: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Huls
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Psychology KUNNijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations