Mother-Adolescent Daughter Interaction: How Maternal Roles Affect Discursive Outcomes
By: Domenica Luvera DelPrete
Published: 05/20/2015
Uploaded: 03/12/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2015 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Conversation analysis, Discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, Maternal roles

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Description/Abstract: As its own micro institution, the family provides the day-to-day context in which roles and relationships are repeatedly (re)established, reinforced, and (re)negotiated. Consequently, parent-child interaction becomes a fertile site for exploring moments of conflict and resistance, as well as nurture and comfort. In no other parent-child-configuration are such moments prominently displayed as in the interaction between mothers and daughters – deemed one of the most conflictive, complex, and connective familial relationships. Despite ample interdisciplinary research on the maternal figure and the mother-daughter relationship, there is a paucity of studies analyzing the discourse of mothers and adolescent daughters in everyday interaction. Given also the highly scrutinized images of the maternal figure, a discourse analytic study provides another lens through which to view and understand this dynamic figure.

The current study aims to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on the mother-daughter relationship, in general, and on the maternal figure, specifically, by examining (1) how various maternal roles emerge and shift in the daily interaction of one mother and her adolescent daughter; (2) what discursive strategies the mother employs when in these roles; and (3) how the mother’s roles and discourse strategies affect the interactional outcome with the adolescent daughter.

Using videotaped and transcribed interactions between a mother and her 15 year old daughter in their family home over a two week period, the data were analyzed primarily from an interactional sociolinguistic perspective, using conversation analytic techniques as a tool for transcription and discursive analysis.

Findings revealed that when the mother’s talk indexes the role of nurturer, interaction with the adolescent daughter is less contentious. Mother as Nurturer has positive interactional outcomes for the mother-daughter pair, despite the discursive strategies she employs when in this role. When the mother steps out of this role, and becomes the target of blame, partakes in martyrdom, engages in troubles telling or is being critical, the interactional outcome is disharmonious to varying degrees. The findings of this study contribute to the literature on the maternal figure. They also reveal the roles and interactional cues that bring about harmonious and disharmonious outcomes within the mother-daughter relationship.