Shaming interrogatives: Admonishments, the social psychology of emotion, and discursive practices of behaviour modification in family mealtimes

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Abstract

This paper contributes to the study of admonishments, the operation of shaming in family interaction, and more broadly presses the virtue of a discursive psychological reconsideration of the social psychology of emotion. It examines the methodological basis of contemporary research on shame in experimental and qualitative social psychology, illustrated through the Test of Self-Conscious Affect (TOSCA) and qualitative work using shame narratives. Doubts are raised about how these methods can throw light on shaming practices in natural situations. The study uses a collection of video recordings of family mealtimes, focusing on admonishment sequences in which parents address the interrogatives ‘what are you doing’ or ‘what did I say’ to a ‘misbehaving’ child. Despite the interrogative syntax, rather than soliciting information we show that these interrogative forms pursue behaviour change by publicly highlighting both the problem behaviour and the child’s active and intentional production of that behaviour. This is the sense in which the practice can be understood as shaming. Although this practice prosecutes shaming, ways in which the children can ignore, push back, or rework parents’ actions are highlighted. This study contributes to a broader consideration of how enduring behavioural change can be approached as a parents’ project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-364
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume59
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

Keywords

  • admonishments
  • assessments
  • child interaction
  • conversation analysis
  • descriptions
  • directives
  • discursive psychology
  • emotion
  • epistemics
  • language socialization
  • morality
  • naturalistic data
  • parent
  • shame
  • social development
  • socialization

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