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Eye-For-An-Eye, Tooth for a Tooth:Reaction without Reflection


Affiliations
1 Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, Delhi, India
     

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The findings documented in the paper are a part of the larger project that attempted to study how morality is constructed in the everyday conversation between parents and children. For this purpose everyday family discourses were collected from 12 upper middle class Delhi based families. These families had at least one child between 3-5 years of age. He/she was the participant child, and the discourses involving him/her were the focus of the study. The discourses pre-dominantly revolved around four values, namely 'respecting elders', 'sharing', 'harm' and 'reference to God'. This paper addresses the concerns of inflicting harm. The 'harm' here is characterized by the minor physical fights which transpires between children, but warrants no major injury. The paper seeks to discuss how the mothers address such instances of physical fights or threats reported by their children, and consequently how the children construe the notion of harm. The study was carried out in two phases. In the first phase, the everyday conversations between the child and the adult (s) were recorded and subjected to discourses analysis. The analysis was guided by the paradigm of discursive psychology. The analysis suggests that the mothers do not focus on the issue of righteousness of the act, but emphasize more on the combative action. In the second phase, the parents were interviewed to triangulate the discursive findings. The semi-structured interview schedule was based on the understanding developed from the analysis of the discourses. Both the methods of study seem to converge on a common understanding. The focus on reaction, without reflection, seems to guide the child in understanding harm as something that warrants retaliation and as a legitimate manifestation of power.

Keywords

Morality, Discourse, Harm, Thematic Analysis, Indian Context.
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  • Eye-For-An-Eye, Tooth for a Tooth:Reaction without Reflection

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Authors

Vatsala Saxena
Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, Delhi, India

Abstract


The findings documented in the paper are a part of the larger project that attempted to study how morality is constructed in the everyday conversation between parents and children. For this purpose everyday family discourses were collected from 12 upper middle class Delhi based families. These families had at least one child between 3-5 years of age. He/she was the participant child, and the discourses involving him/her were the focus of the study. The discourses pre-dominantly revolved around four values, namely 'respecting elders', 'sharing', 'harm' and 'reference to God'. This paper addresses the concerns of inflicting harm. The 'harm' here is characterized by the minor physical fights which transpires between children, but warrants no major injury. The paper seeks to discuss how the mothers address such instances of physical fights or threats reported by their children, and consequently how the children construe the notion of harm. The study was carried out in two phases. In the first phase, the everyday conversations between the child and the adult (s) were recorded and subjected to discourses analysis. The analysis was guided by the paradigm of discursive psychology. The analysis suggests that the mothers do not focus on the issue of righteousness of the act, but emphasize more on the combative action. In the second phase, the parents were interviewed to triangulate the discursive findings. The semi-structured interview schedule was based on the understanding developed from the analysis of the discourses. Both the methods of study seem to converge on a common understanding. The focus on reaction, without reflection, seems to guide the child in understanding harm as something that warrants retaliation and as a legitimate manifestation of power.

Keywords


Morality, Discourse, Harm, Thematic Analysis, Indian Context.