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Title: "I Want This, I Want That": a discursive analysis of mental state terms in family interaction
Authors: Childs, Carrie
Keywords: Discursive psychology
Conversation analysis
Mental states
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: © Carrie Childs
Abstract: Using the theoretical approach of discursive psychology, this thesis examines the interactive uses of mental state talk, in particular the term want , in everyday family interaction. In mainstream cognitive psychology mental state terms are examined as words which signify internal referents. How individuals come to competently participate in social interaction is formulated as a problem of how individual, isolated minds come to understand the contents of other minds. This thesis challenges these individualistic notions and examines notions of wanting as interactionally managed participants concerns. The data are taken from two sources; a set of video recordings taken from a series of fly-on-the-wall documentary programmes which each focus on a particular family and videotapes of mealtimes recorded by three families. Recordings were initially transcribed verbatim and sections related to the emerging themes within the thesis were subsequently transcribed using the Jefferson notation system. These transcripts were then analysed, alongside repeated viewings of the video recordings. The thesis considers a range of analytic themes, which are interlinked via one of the primary research questions, which has been to examine how, and to what end, speakers routinely deploy notions of wanting in everyday talk-in-interaction. A major theme has been to highlight inherent problems with work in social cognition which uses experimental tasks to examine children s Theory of Mind and understanding of desires . I argue that the assumptions of this work are a gross simplification of the meaning wanting for both children and adults. A further theme has been to examine the sequential organisation of directives and requests in both adults and children s talk. Finally, I examine speakers practices for rejecting a proposal regarding their actions and for denying a formulation of their motivations by a co-interactant. The conclusions of the thesis show that expressions of wanting are practical expressions which work within a flow of interactional and deontic considerations and that making claims regarding one s own or others wants is entirely a social matter. I argue that rather than being examined for what they may reveal about the mind , mental state terms may be fruitfully examined as interactional matters.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/9354
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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