Facoltà di scienze della comunicazione

I want to talk but it is not possible : Dinnertime argumentation in Swiss and Italian families

Arcidiacono, Francesco ; Bova, Antonio

In: US-China education review, 2011, vol. 8, no. 3, p. 355-368

This paper investigates to what extent Swiss and Italian family members engage to resolve differences of opinion during their everyday conversations at home. The goal is to point out the importance of the context in the an alytical reconstruction of argumentation carried out by parents and children at dinnertime and to highlight the similarities and diferences among different strategies. By... Plus

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    Summary
    This paper investigates to what extent Swiss and Italian family members engage to resolve differences of opinion during their everyday conversations at home. The goal is to point out the importance of the context in the an alytical reconstruction of argumentation carried out by parents and children at dinnertime and to highlight the similarities and diferences among different strategies. By means of case studies, we intend to an alyze qualitatively how argumentation shapes the communicative practices of Swiss and Italian family members and how it can foster a critical attitude in their processes of decision-making. We integrate two theoretical and methodological approaches. The first one is the model of the critical discussion, derived from the pragma-dialectical perspective. It represents an ideal argumentative discussion against which real-life interaction can be analytically reconstructed and evaluated. The second one is the conversational an d discursive approach that aims at identifying the sequential patterns of discourse produced by participants. Within conversations at dinnertime, we rely on insights from those approaches in order to interpret context-bound communicative and argumentative moves among family members. The results of this study show that, within the particular setting of dinnertime conversations, the pragma-dialectical and conversational analyses are powerful methods to understand how argumentation fosters a critical atitude in the process of building the family consent. Families show different ways through which children are socialized to argue and to discuss with adults, developing specific strategies and conversational devices within this kind of activity. The findings of this study open a large space for investigation about the management of family debates in diferent situations, taking into account a double perspective on argumentation.