Constructions of personal relationships: Older women in conversation

Montague, Jane Marie (2007). Constructions of personal relationships: Older women in conversation. PhD thesis The Open University.



The aim of this research is to examine how older women construct their relationships in talk with three features distinguishing the study: a) myself as a member of the group of conversationalists; b) observing and recording relationships as talk-in-interaction; and c) using visual stimuli as a topic for talk. The report is located primarily within an ethnomethodologically based interest in talk-in-interaction, which influenced both the choice of participants and the methodology. Conversations about relationships are generated between older women known both to the researcher and to each other. Two types of occasioned talk of a purposeful nature are audio-recorded - semi-structured interviews and conversations focusing on personal photographs. The talk is then transcribed in detail and the resulting data closely analysed. By examining both sequencing and membership categorisation, aspects of the talk become hearable as relationships-in-interaction. Several features are reportable from this micro-analysis of the talk. One is indexicality - the talk is located in a particular context and links in detail to the particular women talking and the specific topic being talked about. Another is the shared knowledge and understanding that the participants make relevant and hearable in the different identity constructions that are used. Remembered accounts are significant in the conversations and one of the ways in which these memories are presented is in the form of stories and second stories, from both the researcher and from the other conversationalists. In summary the research makes possible a discussion of relationships-in-interaction between women who know each other. Their relationships are made hearable through storied remembering prompted by questions and personal photographs. This discussion builds on previous work that investigates personal relationships and identifies a novel means of generating talk-in-interaction.

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