ERIC Number: ED240450
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Oct-12
Reference Count: 0
Custody Litigation: Interpreting Ideological Discourse.
Girdner, Linda K.
Contested child custody cases between divorcing parents provide a context in which particular ideologies of the family are articulated, reproduced, and legitimized in legal practices. The relationship between legal and extralegal categories was examined in a review of 32 divorce cases, 13 from family court and 19 from circuit court. Data came from court records, and direct observation and interviews with participants. Analyses involved identifying categories and properties, and comparing them to develop an understanding of their interconnections. The interrelationship between legal categories and the norms and symbols about the family expressed in these cases revealed a code for conduct on the normative level and two competing ideologies of the family on the symbolic level. Derived from substantive and procedural law, the legal categories serve to structure and limit the discourse. The extra legal categories are the norms and symbols reflected in the discourse. The code for conduct consists of two sets of interconnecting norms, which identify how to be a fit parent and how to raise children. The symbolic dimension of the code was abstracted and two ideologies of the family emerged. The gender-based ideology reflects the natural order, gives primacy to love and its expression through specific acts, and identifies an ideal representation of the mother role as the primary one. The class-based ideology reflects the rational order and emphasizes parenthood as an instrumental role to be carried out with rationality and competence. The two overlapping ideologies presently co-exist, but class-based ideology appears to be moving to a more dominant position. (JAC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: American Univ., Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Family Relations (St. Paul, MN, October 11-15, 1983).