Learning to Argue in Family Shared Discourse: The Reconstruction of Past Events

  • Clotilde Pontecorvo
  • Alessandra Fasulo
Chapter
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 160)

Abstract

The aim of the study is to identify both modes of children’s participation in family disputes and types of argumentative moves adopted, particularly in the act of opposing (problematizing) others or defending oneself. The corpus consists of twenty-seven dinner conversations of ten middle-class families living in Rome and Naples, each with one child between three and six years and at least one older sibling.

Data are shown concerning relative distribution of six different discourse genres (according to temporal focus and presence of problematic events: Ochs & Taylor, 1993) and family members’ role in problematization. A qualitative analysis illustrates ways in which children are involved and act in family disputes. The quantitative results indicate that the problematizing activity occupies about 1/3 of family talk, allowing children peripheral participation in conflict talk; 1/2 of the problematizations are directed to the children. When discourse concerns past events, children show a lower rate of problematizing activity (31.3% vs. 40.9% of the whole of conflict talk) but — when challenged on their past behavior — they appear to have already learned at 4 or 5 years how to justify themselves and to provide rhetorically designed answers, using appropriate temporal markers, authority references, and visual recall devices. Children’s orientation to social and/or family norms and values is also discussed.

Keywords

Beach Cane Arena Ghost Tempo 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  2. Billig, M. (1987). Arguing and thinking: A rhetorical approach to social psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Caron, J. (1990). Le développement de l’argumentation chez l’enfant [The development of argumentation in children]. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  6. Corsaro, W. A., & Rizzo, T. A. (1990). Disputes in the peer culture of American and Italian nursery school children. In A. D. Grimshaw (Ed.), Conflict Talk (pp. 21–66). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Duranti, A., & Goodwin, C. (Eds.). (1992). Rethinking context: Language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Edwards, D. (1991). Categories are for talking. On the cognitive and discursive bases of categorization. Theory & Psychology, 7(4), 515–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Edwards, D., & Mercer, N. M. (1987). Common knowledge: The development of understanding in the classroom. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Edwards, D., & Middleton, D. J. (1988). Conversational remembering and family relationships: How children learn to remember. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edwards, D., & Potter, J. (1992). Discursive psychology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Garvey, C. (1993). Diversity in the conversational repertoire: The case of conflicts in pretending. In C. Pontecorvo (Ed.), Forms of discourse and shared thinking. Cognition and Instruction, 11(3 & 4), 251–264.Google Scholar
  13. Goffman, E. (1964). The neglected situation. American Anthropologist, 66(6), 133–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  15. Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional vision. American Anthropologist, 96(3), 606–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grimshaw, A. D. (Ed.). (1990). Conflict talk: Sociolinguistic investigations of arguments in conversations. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kaye, K. (1982). The mental and social life of babies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Labov, W. (1972). Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  19. Labov, W., & Fanshel, D. (1977). Therapeutic discourse: Psychotherapy as conversation. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lave, J, & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Levinson, S. C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ochs, E. (1988). Culture and language development: Language acquisition and language socialization in a Samoan village. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ochs, E. (1994). Stories that step into the future. In D. Biber & E. Flanagan (Eds.) Sociolinguistic perspective on register (pp. 106–135). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ochs, E., Pontecorvo, C., & Fasulo, A. (1996). Socializing taste. Ethnos, 61(1–2). 7–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ochs, E., & Schieffelin, B. (1989). Language has a heart. Text, 9(1), 7–25.Google Scholar
  26. Ochs, E., & Taylor, C. (1992a). Family narrative as political activity. Discourse and Society, 3, 43–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ochs, E., & Taylor, C., (1992b). Mothers’ role in the everyday reconstruction of “Father knows best.” In K. Hall (Ed.), Locating power: Proceedings of the 1992 Women and language conference (pp. 447–462). Berkeley, CA: University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
  28. Ochs, E., Taylor, C., Rudolph, D., & Smith, N. (1992). Storytelling as a theory- building activity. Discourse Processes, 15, 37–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Orsolini, M. (1993). “Because” in children’s discourse. Applied Psycholinguistics, 14, 89–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Orsolini, M., & Pontecorvo, C. (1989). La genesi della spiegazione nella discussione in classe [Genesis of explanation in class discussion]. In M. S. Barbieri (Ed.), La spiegazione nelVinterazione sociale (pp. 161–190). Torino, Italy: Loescher.Google Scholar
  31. Orsolini, M., & Pontecorvo, C. (1992). Children’s talk in classroom discussion. Cognition and Instruction, 9, 113–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pomerantz, A. (1978). Compliment responses: Notes on the co-operation of multiple constraints. In J. Schenkein (Ed.), Studies in the organization of conversational interaction (pp. 79–112). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  33. Pomerantz, A. (1984). Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred-dispreferred discourse. In J. M. Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of social action (pp. 57–101). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Pontecorvo, C. (1987). Discussing for reasoning: The role of argument in knowledge construction. In E. De Corte, J. G. Lodewijks, R. Parmentier, & P. Span (Eds.), Learning and Instruction. European research in international context, 1, pp. 71–82. Oxford/Leuven: Pergamon/Leuven University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pontecorvo, C. (1993). Forms of discourse and shared thinking. Cognition and Instruction, 11, 293–310.Google Scholar
  36. Pontecorvo, C., Amendola, S., & Fasulo, A. (1994). Storie in famiglia. Lanarrazione come prodotto collettivo [Stories in the family. Narration as a collective product]. Età Evolutiva, 46, 18–34.Google Scholar
  37. Pontecorvo, C., & Girardet, H. (1993). Arguing and reasoning in understanding historical topics. In C. Pontecorvo (Ed.), Forms of discourse and shared thinking. Cognition and Instruction, 11, 365–395.Google Scholar
  38. Pontecorvo, C., & Orsolini, M. (1993). Discussing a story in apre-school setting. In M. A. Pinto & M. Danesi (Eds.), Humanism in language studies: Essays in honor of Renzo Titone (pp. 78–94). Milan: IMFE.Google Scholar
  39. Resnick, L. B. (1991). Shared cognition: Thinking as social practice. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Le vine, & S. D. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 1–20). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sacks, H. (1987). On the preferences for agreement and contiguity in sequences in conversation. In G. Button & J. R. E. Lee (Eds.), Talk and Social Organization (pp. 54–69). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  41. Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on Conversation: Volume 1. (G. Jefferson, Ed.) Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  42. Schegloff, E. A. (1989). Reflections on language, development, and the interactional character of talk-in-interaction. In M. H. Bornstein & J. S. Bruner (Eds.), Interaction in human development (pp. 139–153). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  43. Schegloff, E. A. (1990). On the organization of sequences as a source of “coherence” in talk-in-in ter action. In R. Freedle (Ed.), Advances in discourse processes: Conversational organization and its development (Vol. 38, pp. 51–77). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  44. Schiffrin, D. (1985). Everyday argument: The organization of diversity in talk. In T. van Disk (Ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis, Vol 3. Discourse and dialogue (pp. 35–46). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  45. Schiffrin, D. (1987). Discourse markers. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schiffrin, D. (1990). The management of a co-operative self during argument. The role of opinions and stories. In A. D. Grimshaw (Ed.), Conflict Talk (pp. 241–259). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Semin, G., & Fiedler, K. (1988). The cognitive functions of linguistic categories in describing persons: Social cognition and language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(4), 558–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vygotsky, L.S. (1990). Pensiero e linguaggio [Thought and language]. Bari, Italy: Laterza. (New Italian critical edition by L. Mecacci, based on the first Russian edition; originally published in 1934).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clotilde Pontecorvo
    • 1
  • Alessandra Fasulo
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Psicologia dei Processi di Sviluppo e SocializzazioneUniversitá degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza,”Italy

Personalised recommendations