Personal Storytelling as a Medium of Socialization in Chinese and American Families

Peggy J. Miller*, Angela R. Wiley, Heidi Fung, Chung-Hui Liang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

242 Scopus citations

Abstract

The goal of this study was to determine how personal storytelling functions as a socializing practice within the family context in middle-class Taiwanese and middle-class European American families. The data consist of more than 200 naturally occurring stories in which the past experiences of the focal child, aged 2,6, were narrated. These stories were analyzed at 3 levels: content, function, and structure. Findings converged across these analytic levels, indicating that personal storytelling served overlapping yet distinct socializing functions in the 2 cultural cases. In keeping with the high value placed on didactic narrative within the Confucian tradition, Chinese families were more likely to use personal storytelling to convey moral and social standards. European American families did not treat stories of young children's past experiences as a didactic resource but instead employed stories as a medium of entertainment and affirmation. These findings suggest not only that personal storytelling operates as a routine socializing practice in widely different cultures but also that it is already functionally differentiated by 2,6.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-568
Number of pages12
JournalChild Development
Volume68
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997

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