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Responding to Directives: What can Children do when a Parent Tells them what to do?

Disputes in Everyday Life: Social and Moral Orders of Children and Young People

ISBN: 978-1-78052-876-2, eISBN: 978-1-78052-877-9

Publication date: 19 September 2012

Abstract

Purpose – This chapter examines children's options for responding to parental attempts to get them to do something (directives).

Methodology/approach – The data for the study are video recordings of everyday family mealtime interactions. The study uses conversation analysis and discursive psychology to conduct a microanalysis of sequences of everyday family mealtimes interactions in which a parent issues a directive and a child responds.

Findings – It is very difficult for children to resist parental directives without initiating a dispute. Immediate embodied compliance was the interactionally preferred response option to a directive. Outright resistance was typically met with an upgraded and more forceful directive. Legitimate objections to compliance could be treated seriously but were not always taken as grounds for non-compliance.

Research implications – The results have implications for our understandings of the notions of compliance and authority. Children's status in interaction is also discussed in light of their ability to choose whether to ratify a parent's control attempt or not.

Originality/value of chapter – The chapter represents original work on the interactional structures and practices involved in responding to control attempts by a co-present participant. It offers a data-driven framework for conceptualising compliance and authority in interaction that is based on the orientations of participants rather than cultural or analytical assumptions of the researcher.

Keywords

Citation

Kent, A. (2012), "Responding to Directives: What can Children do when a Parent Tells them what to do?", Danby, S. and Theobald, M. (Ed.) Disputes in Everyday Life: Social and Moral Orders of Children and Young People (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 57-84. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1537-4661(2012)0000015007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited