Patricia von Münchow
Child rearing between tradition and modernity. A contrastive discourse analysis of French and German parenting books
This paper deals with a comparison of French and German parental guidebooks. Within the theoretical framework of cross-cultural discourse analysis, the description of different discursive procedures helps to identify the representations authors construct of child rearing. More precisely the analysis focuses on the relationship between child rearing and tradition and/or (scientific) modernity. The opposition between tradition and modernity appears on various levels, such as the past and the present, as well as the culture to which a guidebook belongs and other cultures. By their positioning in time and in space authors take different stands on how to conceive child rearing. They also construct a variety of relationships with “old things” as well as with “old words”, that is ready-made phrases and language itself as a common heritage. Finally, all guidebooks refer to “old discourse”, namely discursive stereotypes that imprison parenthood. By distinguishing the guidebooks from each other on these different levels of analysis, one can identify a French “public” conception of responsibility for the child, as opposed to a German “private” conception of the same responsibility.
cross-cultural discourse analysis, parental guidebooks, comparison France/Germany, tradition, modernity, discursive stereotypes
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