Edited by Anja R. Lahikainen, Tiina Mälkiä and Katja Repo
Chapter 4: Performative family life
In this chapter, the author reflects on the benefits and constraints of studying family interaction by using video recordings of natural family life. The video data in this study were recorded with four stationary cameras located at strategic points in the homes of 26 families. The author found that there were certain special moments when the family members seemed to do something else than just ‘act normally’ as they were instructed. She calls these special moments ‘performative actions’, following Goffman’s (1959) studies of performance in everyday life. The author found two kinds of performative actions, namely ‘expressive performances’ (such as presenting demonstrations of skills, such as dancing) and ‘moral performances’ (such as organizing family routines differently for the recordings). These performative actions can be used as a rich source of cultural and normative understandings of family life.
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