Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Shirley Bell


The purpose of this study was to examine how sisters collaboratively construct advice episodes in naturally-occurring conversation and how they used these advice episodes in their negotiation of relational identities. Thus, two research questions were addressed: 1) How do sisters collaboratively construct advice episodes in naturally occurring conversation, and 2) How do sisters use advice episodes in their negotiation of relational identities. The database for the study consisted of four sister sets who audio taped naturally occurring conversation. Jefferson's (1984b) transcript notation system was used to transcribe sibling conversations which contained advice episodes and the transcripts were analyzed using the method of conversation analysis. The findings of the study determined that advice episodes were composed of three sequentially ordered activities: 1) problem construction, 2) issuing of advice, and 3) receipt of advice, and that the interactional work required to accomplish these activities differed depending upon whether problem construction was initiated by the potential advice-giver or by the potential advice-recipient. Moreover, it was found that the construction of these episodes served siblings in their ongoing negotiation of relational identities and, so, the sibling relational bond. By nature, advice episodes involve identity issues and the siblings in this study oriented to these concerns and addressed them. This was accomplished, in part, by the use of conversational resources to make claims of authority, to challenge or "downplay" such claims, and to interactionally resist problem construction, the issuing of advice, and advice receipt.