Dilemmas in child custody disputes: the child's best interest in courtroom discourse
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
This thesis examines courtroom interactions involving child custody disputes, exploring how participants during courtroom hearings orient to and manage the task of presenting their own side, while contesting the opposing party, in matters like the child’s best interest, domestic violence, parental neglect and misconduct. Drawing on 42 audio-recorded courtroom examinations of litigating parents by the same side and opponent side attorneys, it examines authentic courtroom hearings. Theoretically and methodologically, the thesis primarily builds on discursive psychology and conversation analysis. It draws on and contributes to studies on institutional talk by explicating the subtle interactional work required by participants in this institutional setting.
The overall aim is to examine how interactional dilemmas in child custody disputes, requiring participants to simultanously manage contradictory activities, are handled through discursive practices. A core dilemma concerns the child’s (lack of) participation in the proceeding. In this absence, litigants try to mobilize the child’s voice and experiences in order to support their own claims, in danger of having such attempts dismissed as mere reflections of their own interest. The child’s reported speech and reported affects are important discursive devices for handling this dilemma. Another dilemma arises when litigants blame each other. Although this is necessary to ‘win’, litigants are regularly blamed when doing so, which generates something of a blame machinery of never-ending blame. A final dilemma concerns domestic violence. While implicitly gendered social categorizations are invoked to support mothers' claims of fearing their ex-partners, such discursive work is undermined through contrasting social categorizations.
By analyzing child custody disputes on the micro-level of courtroom interaction, this study contributes to an understanding of how disputes are built through participants’ discursive practices.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University , 2014. , 95 p.
Child custody disputes, discursive psychology, conversation analysis, institutional talk, interactional dilemmas, reported speech, reported affect, blame allocations, social accounts, membership categories, gendered categories
Research subject Child and Youth Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97452ISBN: 978-91-7447-825-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-97452DiVA: diva2:679083
2014-02-07, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Potter, Jonathan, Professor
Aronsson, Karin, ProfessorGottzén, Lucas, Docent
ProjectsVittnesmål i vårdnadstvister - förhandlingar om barnets bästa i domstol och familjerätt
FunderForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2010-0335
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Accepted. Paper 3: Accepted.2014-01-162013-12-112015-02-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers