A Study of the construction of parental-child power relations in Pla Boo Thong
This study is a discourse analysis of verbal and visual language used to describe the characters of parents and children in Pla Boo Thong, the classic Thai children’s book. The purpose of this study are 1) to find out the ideology of parental-child power relations portrayed in Pla Boo Thong; 2) to study the construction of parentalchild power relations through the verbal and visual language in Pla Boo Thong and 3) to raise awareness of the significance of the parental-child power relations in children’s books. vii Findings from the analysis of verbal and visual language in Pla Boo Thong revealed the imbalance of parental-child power relations. The ideology presented in Pla Boo Thong is the commonly accepted ideology in Thai communities that adults are older and, hence, powerful and superior, and because of that, are to be respected and given power as well as legitimacy to order, manipulate, or even punish. The use of verbal and visual language implies the imbalance of parental-child power relations resulting from age hierarchy. In view that literature is a powerful medium that allows children to learn and be instilled with moral lessons and that authors are believed to be influenced by the cultural values of their society, the verbal and visual portrayal found in Pla Boo Thong can be regarded an influential factor in emphasizing and reproducing a Thai ideology, especially one that provides parents legitimacy to use power in the family. It can also be seen as the continuation of the existing Thai values and social ties. It is hoped that the findings will bring on a better insight into the influence of verbal and visual language used as a tool in children’s books on the child socialization and broaden the perspectives of discourse analysis, particularly, discourse for juveniles and education. It is suggested that the ideology of parental-child power relations in other children’s books should be further studied to find out whether the stereotypes of parental-child power relations are also instilled. The findings may bring on insights into the problem of age bias in Thai society.