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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 33, Issue 6


Talking moral stances into being: the interactional management of moral reasoning in Aggression Replacement Training (ART) classroom sessions

Johanna Svahn / Ann-Carita Evaldsson
Published Online: 2013-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0034


The present paper explores the accounting practices through which alternative moral stances are talked into being, and made sense of, as children account for the morally charged topic of “fighting.” Data are drawn from ethnographic work, combined with video recordings of classroom sessions informed by the ART (Aggression Replacement Training) moral reasoning training program, in a fifth-grade class in a Swedish elementary school. An ethnomethodological approach is taken toward how features of the talk-in-interaction during these sessions indirectly make available systems of accountability motivated by institutionalized standards to talk about morality in a certain way. As will be demonstrated, the teachers' use of reversed polarity questions, assertions, and formulations work to hold children accountable for producing a certain moral stance. It is found that the children have learned to artfully design their contributions (justifications, detailing, second-stories, event descriptions, extreme cases) so that they can both comply with and subvert the institutionalized standards at the same time.

Keywords: morality-in-interaction; accounting practices; ethnomethodology; adult–child interaction; classroom sessions; ART moral reasoning training

About the article

Johanna Svahn

Johanna Svahn is Lecturer at the Department of Education at Uppsala University. Her research interests cover children's use of multimodal resources (talk, gaze, gestures, spatial arrangements) in interactional practices (e.g., insults, social exclusion, teasing, and storytelling) in peer group interaction, as well as the interrelation between morality and institutional practices in classroom interaction. Address for correspondence: Department of Education, Uppsala University, Box 2136, 750 02 Uppsala, Sweden 〈 〉.

Ann-Carita Evaldsson

Ann-Carita Evaldsson is Professor at the Department of Education, Uppsala University. Her work draws on a language socialization approach combined with conversation analysis and membership categorization analysis. Her focus is mainly on children's interactional practices (gossips, insults, disputes, storytelling, corrective routines, etc.) in educational settings, addressing topics such as the social organization of play and games, morality, identity-work (gender, class, and ethnicity), peer learning, and multilingualism. Address for correspondence: Department of Education, Uppsala University, Box 2136, 750 02 Uppsala, Sweden 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2013-11-07

Published in Print: 2013-11-25

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 6, Pages 793–815, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0034.

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