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Abstracts, Journal issues, NORMA 8.2

Att samkonstruera en faderskapsrit: En studie av interaktionen vid klippet av navelsträngen

Shirley Näslund

The general aim of this article is to provide research on rites a new methodological perspective. The article reintroduces rites as an analytical concept to linguistics, by showing how conversation analysis (CA) and membership categorization analysis (MCA) can reveal the rituality of an act from a member’s point of view. CA and MCA give insight into the dependence on the orientations of the participants and their cooperation in constructing an act as a rite. In this sense, the article fulfills the appeal made by the sociologist Andrew Roth for a new consideration of the situated and dynamic circumstances of rites. The specific aim is to investigate how the ritual dimension of the man’s cutting of the umbilical cord is manifested in the interplay between the participants in the delivery room. In Swedish delivery wards fathers are routinely asked whether they would like to cut the umbilical cord of their newborn child. In previous anthropological research, which has been based on interviews and questionnaires, the character of the cut as a paternity rite has been discussed. Yet, there has been no study about what actually happens in the delivery room; there has been no proof that the participants in real time orient to the act as something more than a mere cut. The present study draws on a corpus of 16 video recordings from the delivery room that capture the interaction surrounding the cut in real time. The linguistic microanalysis shows that the participants, by different means, elevate the man’s cutting of the cord as a valued act that is imbued with symbolism. It is shown that the cutting of the cord is a category-bound activity, reserved for the man and connected to the speaking forth of the category daddy.

NORMA: Nordic Journal for Masculinity Studies 8(2), 169-188.


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