Argumentation is often considered as a way to transmit explicit information. However, in daily context-based activities, argumentation practices are embedded in discussions where many norms, beliefs, and values are taken for granted. Our objective is to evaluate the consequences of this daily argumentative processes in terms of socialization. More specifically, we focus on family mealtime conversations and analyze the structure of argumentation thanks to an ideographic methodology based on two models: the pragma-dialectical ideal model of critical discussion (van Eemeren & Grootendorst, 2004) and the Argumentum Model of Topics (Rigotti & Greco Morasso, 2010).
The results, based on a corpus of 30 video-recorded separate meals of 10 middle to upper-middle-class Swiss and Italian families, indicate that implicits in argumentation are particularly effective in transmitting what is taken for granted in any given cultural community. This effectiveness derives from the fact that presuppositions, i.e. background information not explicitly indicated as relevant, appear as unquestionable. Children, who are largely dependent on adults for their well-being as well as for their knowledge acquisition, are not in a position to call into question these presuppositions. Moreover, in the absence of the background necessary to understand an argument, children have to figure out (initially vaguely) a certain context that enables them to make sense of the ongoing dialogue. This background will progressively be enriched thanks to other interactions. Therefore the chances that many aspects of what is taken for granted in any given family will be maintained in the next generation are particularly high.
The results of this study can contribute to the wider theme of argumentative practices and debates in societal and family issues. Family interactions constitute a favorable discursive arena involving children and adults through different intersubjective positions that are shaped by socio-cultural and interpersonal factors within the contingent context of a discussion. Assuming the perspective of argumentation as cultural activity contributes not only to giving conditions for defining development, but also to framing the context in which the development is supported.
2.Taken for granted information in ordinary verbal interactions
3.Argumentation and implicit in family mealtime conversations
4.2Participants’ recruitment and transcription procedures
4.3Definition of argumentative situation and identification of the conversational sequences
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