University of Oulu

Eilittä, T., Haddington, P., & Vatanen, A. (2021). Children seeking the driver’s attention in cars: Position and composition of children’s summons turns and children’s rights to engage. Journal of Pragmatics, 178, 175–191.

Children seeking the driver’s attention in cars : position and composition of children’s summons turns and children’s rights to engage

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Author: Eilittä, Tiina1; Haddington, Pentti2; Vatanen, Anna2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Research Unit for Languages and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, English Philology, P.O.Box 1000, FI-90014, Finland
2University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-30


This paper explores the topic of children having restricted rights to engage in conversation with adults in multiparty interactions. Drawing on the principles of conversation analysis, and 7 h of video-recorded Finnish and English naturally occurring in-car family interactions, our focus is on moments when a child summons the driver while the driver is driving and having a conversation with another passenger. We suggest that the composition and position of the child’s summons relative to other ongoing conversations play a crucial role in whether the child receives a response, or whether the summons will be ignored or suspended by the driver. Positioning and designing summonses in different ways is a resource for the child to exert agency and mobilize a response from the driver to different degrees, which affects the child’s likelihood of entering in interaction with the driver at that moment. The analysis suggests that children cannot be a priori determined to have (or not to have) certain kinds of speaking rights; instead, the “right” to engage in a conversation is contingent and situated, (re)negotiated and accomplished in situ. Finally, summons-answer sequences provide adults a resource for socializing children into the regularities of turn allocation and turn distribution.

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Series: Journal of pragmatics
ISSN: 0378-2166
ISSN-E: 1879-1387
ISSN-L: 0378-2166
Volume: 178
Pages: 175 - 191
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2021.03.005
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: Project “iTask: Linguistic and embodied features of interactional multitasking”, funded by the Eudaimonia Institute of University of Oulu and the Academy of Finland (project number: 287219).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287219
Detailed Information: 287219 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (