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Family TalkDiscourse and Identity in Four American Families$
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Deborah Tannen, Shari Kendall, and Cynthia Gordon

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195313895

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313895.001.0001

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Power Maneuvers and Connection Maneuvers in Family Interaction

Power Maneuvers and Connection Maneuvers in Family Interaction

two Power Maneuvers and Connection Maneuvers in Family Interaction
Family Talk

Deborah Tannen (Contributor Webpage)

Shari Kendall (Contributor Webpage)

Cynthia Gordon (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that family interaction is an ideal site for exploring the complex interrelationship between power and solidarity as relationships among family members are “fundamentally hierarchical” and also “intensely connected”. It argues that discourse analysts must consider an utterance's potential for being both a power maneuver and connection maneuver simultaneously. The framework of the ambiguity and polysemy of the dimensions of power and solidarity in conversational interaction is considered, along with the importance of these dimensions in family discourse. Excerpts from two families show that it is not possible to gain a full understanding of the dynamics of family interaction by focusing exclusively on the power dimension, as has been the tendency in studies of family discourse. Rather, speakers' utterances are complex interplays of both “power maneuvers” and “connection maneuvers”: speakers struggle for the power to determine their own actions and influence the actions of others, and simultaneously seek connection.

Keywords:   family discourse, utterances, family interaction, power, solidarity, connection

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