CANCELLED: Please can I leave the table? Socialisation in action through a longitudinal observation of family mealtime interactions.

  • Thu 30 Nov 17

    12:00 - 14:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Dr Alexandra Kent, School of Psychology, Keele University

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Language and Linguistics, Department of

  • Contact details

    Victoria Mead

When did we learn to ask 'please can I leave the table?' - and more importantly - how did we learn to adopt this routine?

Social researchers have repeatedly hailed the family environment as “the most important agent of socialisation” (Nock, 1987, p236). Thus families have a vital role to play in turning children into full and competent members of society with appropriate moral perspectives and understandings of the world (Larson, Branscomb et al., 2006; Paugh, 2005).

Exactly how socialisation is practically accomplished remains rather less clear. This study is an attempt to explicate the interactional practices through which two children are socialised by their parents into adopting socially acceptable routine behaviours surrounding preparing to leave the dinner table. 

In my talk I will present my analysis of video recorded naturalistic observations of everyday mealtime interactions between a family with two primary school age girls over a three year period. I used Conversation Analysis to examine the structure and organisation of how the participants collectively achieved an orderly departure from the table at the end of the meal and explore how the organisation of the routine activity changed over the course of the three-year recording period. 

The analysis reveals a steady progression from a sequence that is entirely initiated, progressed and managed by the parents towards one in which the children are (three years later) able to initiate, progress and manage the various steps in the process of preparing to the leave the table following a meal. The analysis also explores how mastery of the social routine is marked through disruptive humour and teasing that subverts the newly learned social skills for playful affect. 





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