Relating with an Unborn Baby: Expectant Mothers Socializing Their Toddlers in Japanese Families

  • Akira TakadaEmail author
  • Michie Kawashima


The features of family are closely related to those of self and society. It merits particular attention to analyze how “children’s lives” are formulated in relation to the particular time and geographical area. To this end, this study examines talk-in-interaction between pregnant women and their family members in contemporary Japan. When an unborn baby is introduced in social interaction, the participants adopt strategies so as to accommodate the expectant baby. This study describes the distinctiveness of the participation framework of interactions about pregnancy by answering the following questions: (1) Whose and what action introduces the unborn baby using what temporal prospect? (2) What variation in spatial positioning is evident when introducing the unborn baby? (3) Whose and what action represents the unborn baby’s voice? (4) How the pregnant woman talks about her physical sensations within the sequence structure of current interaction? Based on the above analysis, this article proposes the following arguments: (1) The distinctiveness of the socialization platform is linked to the form of mutual understanding towards which the social interaction orients (e.g., the orientation to the triadic relationship framework, which includes the unborn baby). Introduction of the unborn baby into family interactions gives opportunities for the older child to take the stance of one who knows and thereby has learnt what counts as morally appropriate ways of acting in familial relationships. (2) Even before the baby has been born, a discursive positioning is already being produced within interaction by those immediately concerned. The baby is then inserted into this discursive position. (3) The pregnant woman often takes an initiative to introduce the unborn baby into family interactions and share morally appropriate knowledge regarding the familial relationships, because she has the epistemic primacy regarding the physical sensations with respect to the fetus.


Pregnant Woman Spatial Position Picture Book Family Interaction Familial Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Asian and African Area StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Division of English and American StudiesKansai Gaidai CollegeHirakataJapan

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