Preference Organisation and Peer Disputes: How Young Children Resolve Conflict, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Preference Organisation and Peer Disputes

How Young Children Resolve Conflict, 1st Edition

By Amelia Church


290 pages

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How do children get their own way in arguments? What is the most effective way of pursuing one's own goals in preschool? 'Use your words' is an instruction frequently heard in nurseries and pre-schools encouraging young children to resolve the situation through verbal rather than physical means. Discourse is seen as the solution, yet, what words are the children supposed to use, and how do they go about resolving disputes? This fascinating book offers a conversation analysis of children's arguments, revealing disputing as a highly ordered, rule-governed activity, even amongst very young children. The author provides a rich theoretical discussion of the work in speech acts and conversational analysis, whilst offering a sophisticated review in relation to children's culture. It will be of great interest to conversation analysts within sociology and linguistics, as well as to educationalists and scholars of childhood.


'A major advance in our emerging understanding of children's adversative discourse. This scholarly and engaging book highlights key findings on the nature of children's arguments, threats, and responses to potential conflict in detail. We see how children learn the skills necessary for overcoming emotionally charged conflict, gradually employing those conversational resources central to "face management" in talk-in-interaction. In doing so, Amelia Church makes a major contribution to the study of children's conversational skills.' Mike Forrester, University of Kent, UK 'This engaging and thought provoking study of preference organisation in young children’s peer disputes offers fresh insights into how children engage in adversative talk and interaction in the preschool classroom. The study challenges traditional adult-held views about how children should act and shows how even very young children pursue their own political agendas. The book makes a substantial contribution to studies of child-child communication, childhood and institutional talk.' Susan Danby, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

About the Author

Dr Amelia Church is Lecturer in Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She was previously Lecturer in Childhood Studies at the University of Wales, Swansea. She has worked as Research Fellow at the Education Foundation and the Schools Innovation Commission in Victoria, Australia, and is a conbritutor to the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, an ongoing project at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

About the Series

Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Directions in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis

Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis are cognate approaches to the study of social action that together comprise a major perspective within the contemporary human sciences. Ethnomethodology focuses upon the production of situated and ordered social action of all kinds, whilst Conversation Analysis has a more specific focus on the production and organisation of talk-in-interaction. Of course, given that so much social action is conducted in and through talk, there are substantive as well theoretical continuities between the two approaches. Focusing on social activities as situated human productions, these approaches seek to analyse the intelligibility and accountability of social activities ‘from within’ those activities themselves, using methods that can be analysed and described. Such methods amount to aptitudes, skills, knowledge and competencies that members of society use, rely upon and take for granted in conducting their affairs across the whole range of social life.

As a result of the methodological rewards consequent upon their unique analytic approach and attention to the detailed orderliness of social life, Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis have ramified across a wide range of human science disciplines throughout the world, including anthropology, social psychology, linguistics, communication studies and social studies of science and technology.

This series is dedicated to publishing the latest work in these two fields, including research monographs, edited collections and theoretical treatises. As such, its volumes are essential reading for those concerned with the study of human conduct and aptitudes, the (re)production of social orderliness and the methods and aspirations of the social sciences.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General