about this bookdeutsch english Conflict, Georg Simmel proposed, is a form of sociation sui generis. Conflict, thus his provocative claim, unifies the adversaries in the act of resolving controversy. But how do these theoretical considerations apply specifically to everyday family life? What happens when the dinner table becomes an arena of conflict? How are controversies dealt with in communication? Are there perhaps even different forms of communication in dealing with controversy so that we can distinguish different styles of conflict in the families under study? These are the questions addressed in the study “The Dinner Table as an Arena of Conflict – Styles of Conflict in Family Communication Settings.” The study draws on data from conversations among family members at the dinner table that were collected as part of the project “Socialization and Tradition,” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and recorded in the absence of the researchers. Speaking of the dinner table as an arena of conflict refers to conversations at the dinner table that revolve around controversial issues emerging in everyday family life. The data provides rich, authentic documentations of family controversies. The study is not interested in the reasons for conflict but how the family members deal with it. With their utterances, they initiate conflict, determine how it unfolds, and end conflict, but also shape the mode of conducting conflict.
The aim of the study is to reconstruct styles of family conflict. The study is organized as follows. The first chapter introduces the theoretical foundations of the research. The key concepts guiding the study are Georg Simmel’s theories of conflict, supplemented by Heinz Messmer’s systems theoretical approach. The notion of style is operationalized for the purposes of this study by taking into consideration the history of ist sociological usage, sociological theories on the notion of style, and empirical studies. The second chapter is devoted to the methodological foundations of ethnomethodology and conversational analysis, as it applies to the analyses of conversations at the dinner table, and discusses the system according to which the speakers take turns in speaking as an indicator of the style of conflict. The theory of communicative forms and empirical studies particularly of blaming complement the methodological approach. Analysis of the data and the contentious conversations are the subject of chapter 3. The analyses serve to reconstruct the styles of conflict as types and the characteristic features thereof. Following typological reconstruction are thoughts on the research methodology as well as on the transfer of these methods to research on parenting styles. The concluding chapter 4 returns to the question raised by Simmel concerning conflict as a form of sociation and discusses it in relation to the reconstructed styles of conflict.
keywordsErziehung Erziehungswissenschaft Familiensoziologie Georg Simmel Gesprächsanalyse Heinz Messmer Kommunikative Gattungen Konfliktsoziologie Konfliktstil Konflikttheorie Konversationsanalyse Vergesellschaftung
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