“Won't you give up your snack for the sake of science?” Emerging science identities in family everyday interaction

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23 Scopus citations


This study provides a rich account of everyday science engagement in a science family (a family rich in science habitus) and sheds light on how science–person and science–antagonist identities emerge through science engagement in such a family. Using audio recordings and field notes obtained over a year of self-ethnography, I systematically analyze science engagement in one family, showing how science was infused in all aspects of family life. However, the children in this family diverged in patterns of science participation: one child exhibited a science person identity, expressing more positive disciplinary emotions, initiating more frequently, asking more questions, sustaining longer investigations, and generally holding the floor three times more than the other child, who exhibited a science antagonist identity. To further understand the reason why the two children thus diverged in their patterns of science participation, despite many shared conditions, I zoom in on the moment-by-moment interactions in the family. Using microanalysis, I explore how positioning and roles may elucidate such local variation. The analysis illustrates how repeating events of identification within everyday family interactions are a powerful mechanism that can help explain such divergences. The findings underscore the importance of parents' awareness of the myriad of ways that recognition and roles are intertwined in everyday science engagement and identity formation. They suggest considering the potential of informal science-learning environments to lead to alienation from science. Furthermore, the study implies that although we must investigate how socio-historical categories function to deny individuals' (and groups') access to science, we should also go beyond these categories to understand how equal access to science is denied in less apparent ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1235
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • family learning
  • identity
  • informal science learning
  • parent–child interaction
  • roles and positioning
  • self-ethnography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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