Forward anchoring in transformative agency: How parents of children with complex feeding difficulties transcend the status quo

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 2022, 33
Issue Date:
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To understand how people change the course of their own lives and the lives of those around them, we need to understand the dynamics of agency. Sannino (2015a, 2015b) model of transformative agency by double stimulation (TADS), centres on how people use auxiliary tools to break away from conflicts of motives. Focusing on the serious but overlooked problem of feeding-tube dependency in childhood, the paper asks: How do parents enable their child to feed orally when the ‘given’ future remains dependent on a feeding tube? Analysis of two successful but different processes deploys Sannino's metaphor of forward-anchoring – pulling on stable anchors to move towards unknown solutions. As primary caregivers, two mothers broke away from conflicts of motives by searching, regaining control and then pulling forward on through diverse arrays of actions. The paper contributes new insights in an area where agency is vital yet hardly studied. It reveals how what is often regarded as a biomedical or clinical problem can be understood in radically different, future-oriented terms that recognise parents' agentic contributions, and the everyday means that can be crucial in breaking away from underlying conflicts of motives.
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