‘You must know what you mean when you say that’: the morality of knowledge claims about ADHD in radio phone-ins

Wytske Versteeg*, Hedwig te Molder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on a corpus of radio phone-ins, we present a discursive psychological analysis of how mothers carefully tailor their knowledge claims regarding their children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Mothers typically claim knowledge about their children's good intentions, but not about the ‘ADHD-ness’ of their conduct. Whereas the former is seen as appropriate knowledge for a concerned parent, the latter is treated as a matter of expert knowledge. We show that as soon as problematic behaviour is treated as observable from the outside and describable by mothers and other lay persons, it becomes vulnerable to being formulated as ‘normal disobedience’, rather than symptomatic of a professionally administered, doctorable condition. We argue that it is important to be aware of the moralities hidden in knowledge claims, as they help sustain an unproductive perspective in which either the child's brain or his mother is blamed for behaviour perceived as problematic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-734
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • conversation analysis (CA)
  • language/linguistics
  • lay concepts
  • parenting/parents
  • sociology of scientific knowledge

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