Argumentative schemes and symptomatic, causal, and analogical relations in discursive exchanges between adults and children

Antonio Bova, Francesco Arcidiacono


This study aims to explore the interplay between parents’ arguments, children’s
types of reaction and topics of disagreement during mealtime conversations.
Within a data corpus constituted by 30 video-recorded meals of 10 Swiss and
Italian families, a corpus of 132 argumentative discussions was selected for a
qualitative analysis. The findings of the pragma-dialectical analysis indicate that
both parents and children assume argument schemes related to the object of the
disagreement: when the contested standpoints refer to food, arguments are based
on a symptomatic relation; when they refer to the behavior of children, parents
base their argumentation on a causal and analogy relation. Moreover, the children’s
type of reaction is typically an expression of further doubts or a mere opposition
without providing any argument. The implications concerning the use of
argumentative schemes are discussed in terms of possibilities of mutual learning
occurring during daily discursive exchanges between parents and children.


argumentative schemes; symptomatic relations; causal relations; analogy relations; adult-child interactions.

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  ISSN PRINT: 1125-5196  -   ISSN ONLINE: 1974-4854