Sibling disputes as a socialisation site for pragmatic, relational and moral aspects of ‘sharing’

31 May 2024
Room H1

Sibling disputes as a socialisation site for pragmatic, relational and moral aspects of ‘sharing’

Socialising children into the responsibilities, rights and expectations as relevant to the categorial, relational, pragmatic and moral work is a crucial aspect of family talk. As research has shown, an important site for such language and pragmatic socialisation practices can be argument and dispute sequences (e.g. Goodwin et al. 2012; Goodwin & Loyd 2020). Predominantly, studies have focussed on parent-child interaction, including some work on disagreement and conflict, with fewer studies examining (young-age) siblings’ arguments (but see Hester & Hester 2010, 2012; Friedland & Mahon, 2018). By exploring both sibling and parent-children talk, this paper analyses how ‘sharing’ emerges in and through sibling disputes and what role the parent category plays in such sequences in terms socialising children to pragmatic, relational and moral aspects of interaction and relationships. The data comes from an extended sibling dispute sequence taken from video-recorded Russian-speaking family conversations in Australia that involve two brothers, age five and two, mother and father. Using a combination of membership categorisation analysis and interactional pragmatics approaches, the analysis explores how the dispute sequence starts, develops and closes. It primarily focusses on (1) the role of parents as oriented to by children and parents themselves in the dispute resolution and sequence closure, and (2) how sibling arguments serve as a site for pragmatic, relational and moral aspects of ‘sharing’. Results show each brother’s orientation to individual ownership of items in question and their attempts through lexical, prosodic and embodied means to recruit their parents in order to sanction the other’s behaviour. Interestingly, the parents’ involvement is primarily visible through their mobilising ‘sharing’ practices that are illustrated both verbally and through embodied action. Throughout the sequence, both children are directed to remedial action – socialising into sharing as pragmatic, relational and moral dimensions as relevant to the category of doing being a brother.



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