In many senses families are the cradle of language - the origin of everyday
talk, and a touchstone for the talk in other contexts. The daily management
of the household, the creation of intimate relationships, the negotiation
of values and beliefs, are all sustained through conversation. Families
have nonetheless been less a focus for discourse analysis than the
workplace and other formal institutions.
Emerging from a three-year Georgetown project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan
foundation, this contributed volume will be one of the first to fill this
gap and look in-depth at the face-to-face interactions of four American
families. All working with the same data - audio tape recordings made in
four family homes over the course of several years - the contributors focus
on extending our knowledge of family discourse and identifying new ways in
which family members create and enact their identities within the family.
Several broad themes emerge: the underlying dynamics of power and
solidarity in the family and how they are reinforced through talk; the
negotiation of gendered identities in conjunction with family identities,
especially in dual-income families; and the ways in which families actively
confirm their beliefs and values when children are present.
The volume makes an important and groundbreaking contribution to the fields
of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and communication, as welll as to
language and gender studies.