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Narrative self-making during dinnertime conversations in Chinese immigrant families

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Abstract

Narrative self-making at dinnertime was examined in Chinese immigrant families, with European American families serving as a comparison group. Based on Bruner’s (1986, 1990) “dual landscapes” theoretical framework, we analyzed memory conversations at dinnertime in five Chinese immigrant and seven European American families with preschool-aged children. Chinese immigrant families engaged in lengthier dinner conversations than did European American families. Chinese immigrant and European American parents further differed in the way they narrated information pertaining to the landscape of actions (e.g., people involved, child’s actions, others’ actions) and landscape of consciousness (e.g., child’s internal states, others’ internal states). As Chinese immigrant parents continue to uphold values from the culture-of-origin while adopting the values of the host culture, they narrated information that would socialize their children towards the development of a bicultural self. On the other hand, in accordance with their cultural values, European American parents narrated information that would socialize their children towards the development of an independent self. Dinnertime thus functions as an important socialization context for narrative self-making to construct a cultured self.

References

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