Families, Relationships and Societies
An international journal of research and debate

Family sociology as a theoretical enterprise? A personal reflection

View author details View Less
  • 1 Open University and University of Reading, , UK
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

David Morgan’s contributions to family sociology started from a direct engagement with theoretical perspectives, but his 1996 publication, Family Connections, took his family sociology in a new, somewhat ‘fuzzy’ direction. Two key motifs for his later work are the emphasis on ‘family’ as an adjective, and its fruitfulness when conjoined with the doing of ‘practices’. Yet his 1996 text also identified key theoretical themes he considered important for family sociology to retain. I trace some of the theoretical concerns that he carried forward in his later work, while drawing attention to some aspects that invite further development, including the significance of everyday family meanings, the challenge of considering ‘family practices’ beyond affluent Minority worlds, and the need to critique the ‘individual’ along with the ‘family’. I offer this discussion on the basis that family sociology is a central issue for sociology in general as a theoretical enterprise.

  • Almack, K. (2022) A death in the family: experiences of dying and death in which everyday family practices are embedded and enacted, Families, Relationships and Societies, 11(2): xxxxxx, forthcoming.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Almack, K. and Woodthorpe, K. (2021) Death and its aftermath in the 2020s: why a sociological lens is needed more than ever, British Sociological Annual Conference, Panel discussion, 13 April.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Backett, K. (1982) Mothers and Fathers, London: Macmillan.

  • Becker, B. and Charles, N. (2006) Layered meanings: the construction of ‘the family’ in the interview, Community, Work and Family, 9(2): 10122. doi: 10.1080/13668800600586894

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berard, T.J. (2005) Rethinking practices and structures, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 35(2): 196230. doi: 10.1177/0048393105275290

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bernardes, J. (1986) Multi-dimensional developmental pathways: a proposal to facilitate the conceptualisation of ‘family diversity’, Sociological Review, 33(2): 679702.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bhambra, G. (2021) Next BSA president elected, BSA News, 11 November https://es.britsoc.co.uk/next-bsa-president-elected.

  • Bhambra, G. and Holmwood, J. (2021) Colonialism and Modern Social Theory, Cambridge: Polity.

  • Boulton, M.G. (1983) On Being a Mother, London: Tavistock.

  • Bourdieu, P. (1996) On the family as a realized category, Theory, Culture and Society, 3(3): 1926. doi: 10.1177/026327696013003002

  • Carter, J, and Duncan, S. (2017) Wedding paradoxes: individualized conformity and the ‘perfect day’, The Sociological Review, 65(1): 320

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooper, D. (1972) The Death of the Family, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Coslett, T., Lury, C. and Summerfield, P. (eds) (2000) Feminism and Autobiography, London: Routledge.

  • Cotterill, P. and Letherby, G. (1993) Weaving stories: personal auto/biographies in feminist research, Sociology, 27(1): 6779. doi: 10.1177/003803859302700107

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidoff, L. (1990) ‘Adam spoke first and named the orders of the world’: masculine and feminine domains in history and sociology, in H. Corr and L. Jamieson (eds) Politics of Everyday Life, New York: St Martin’s Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, H. (2015) Understanding Children’s Personal Lives and Relationships, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Davies, H. (2019) Embodied and sensory encounters: death, bereavement and remembering in children’s family and personal lives, Children’s Geographies, 17(5): 55264.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans, R., Ribbens McCarthy, J., Bowlby, S., Wouango, J. and Kébé, F. (2016) Responses to Death, Care and Family Relations in Urban Senegal, Reading: University of Reading.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans, R., Ribbens McCarthy, J., Kébé, F., Bowlby, S., and Wouango, J. (2017) Interpreting ‘grief’ in Senegal: language, emotions and Cross-cultural translation in a francophone African context, Mortality, 22(2): 11835. doi: 10.1080/13576275.2017.1291602

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eyetsemitan, F. (2021) Inequality, death and dying, Panel discussion, The 15th International Conference on the Social Context of Death Dying and Disposal, 1–4 September, Manchester Metropolitan University.

  • Finch, J. (2007) Displaying families, Sociology, 42(2): 6581. doi: 10.1177/0038038507072284

  • Finch, J. (2008) Naming names: kinship, individuality and personal names, Sociology, 42(4): 70925. doi: 10.1177/0038038508091624

  • Finch, J. and Mason, J. (2000) Passing On: Kinship and Inheritance in England, London: Routledge.

  • Finch, J. and Morgan, D.H.J. (2021) Two families, many stories and the value of autobiography, Families, Relationships and Societies, doi: 10.1332/204674321X16311914213298.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gillies, V., Ribbens McCarthy, J. and Holland, J. (2001) ‘Pulling Together, Pulling Apart’: The Family Lives of Young People Aged 16–18, London: Family Policy Studies Centre / Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gubrium, J. and Holstein, J. (1990) What is Family?, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.

  • Harding, S. (ed) (2004) The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader, New York: Routledge.

  • Jamieson, L. (2020) Remembering David Morgan, Families, Relationships and Societies, 9(3): 50911. doi: 10.1332/204674320X16004506666417

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jamieson, L. and Highet, G. (2013) Troubling loss? Children’s experiences of major disruptions in family life, in J. Ribbens McCarthy, C.A. Hooper and V. Gillies (eds) Family Troubles: Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People, Bristol: Policy Press, pp 13550.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jamieson, L., Morgan, D.H.J., Crow, G., and Allan, G. (2006) Friends, neighbours and distant partners: extending or decentring family relationships?, Sociological Research Online, 11(3), www.socresonline.org.uk/11/3/jamieson.html. doi: 10.5153/sro.1421

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Juozeliūnienė, I. and Seymour, J. (eds) (2020) Making Lithuanian Families Across Borders, Vilnius: Vilnius University Press.

  • Kamwangamalu, N.M. (1999) Ubuntu in South Africa: a sociolinguistic perspective to a Pan-African concept, Critical Arts, 13(2): 2441. doi: 10.1080/02560049985310111

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laing, R.D. (1960) The Divided Self, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Langford, W., Lewis, C., Solomon, Y. and Warin, J. (2001) Family Understandings: Closeness, Authority and Independence in Families with Teenagers, London: Family Policy Studies Centre.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maton, K. (2008) Habitus, in M. Grenfell (ed) Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts, London: Routledge, pp 4864.

  • Mauthner, N. (2021) Karen Barad’s posthumanist relational ontology: an Intra-active approach to theorising and studying family practices, Families, Relationships and Societies, 10(1): 3349. doi: 10.1332/204674321X16111601839112

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meghji, A. (2021) Decolonizing Sociology, Cambridge: Polity.

  • Mills, C.W. (1959 [2000]) The Sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (1975) Social Theory and the Family, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (1985) The Family, Politics and Social Theory, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (1996) Family Connections, Cambridge: Polity.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2001) Family sociology in from the fringe: the three ‘economies’ of family lives, in R. Burgess and A. Murcott (eds) Developments in Sociology, Prentice-Hall: Harlow, pp 22748

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2003) Introduction, in D. Cheal (ed) Family: Critical Concepts in Sociology, London: Routledge, pp 116.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2004) Book reviews: sociology of family life, Sociological Review, 52(4): 6068. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00498_4.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2011a) Rethinking Family Practices, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2011b) Framing relationships and families, in L. Jamieson, R. Simpson and R. Lewis (eds) Researching Families and Relationships, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 1933.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2011c) Locating ‘family practices’, Sociological Research Online, 16(4): 17482. doi: 10.5153/sro.2535

  • Morgan, D.H.J. (2019) Family troubles, troubling families, and family practices, Journal of Family Issues, 40(16): 222538. doi: 10.1177/0192513X19848799

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morrow, V. (1998) Understanding Families: Children’s Perspectives, London: National Children’s Bureau.

  • Oakley, A. (1976) Housewife, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Praeg, L. (2008) An answer to the question: what is [ubuntu]?, South African Journal of Philosophy, 27(4): 36785. doi: 10.4314/sajpem.v27i4.31525

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Prandini, R. (2015) Relational sociology: a well-defined sociological paradigm or a challenging ‘relational turn’ in sociology?, International Review of Sociology, 25(1)114. doi: 10.1080/03906701.2014.997969

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens, J. (1994) Mothers and Their Children: A Feminist Sociology of Childrearing, London: Sage.

  • Ribbens McCarthy, J., Edwards, R. and Gillies, V. (2003/2016) Making Families: Moral Tales of Parenting and Step-Parenting, Durham: Sociologypress and Abingdon: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J. (2012) The powerful relational language of ‘family’: togetherness, belonging and personhood, Sociological Review, 60(1): 6890. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.02045.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J. and Edwards, R. (2002) The individual in public and private: the significance of mothers and children, in A. Carling, S. Duncan and R. Edwards (eds) Analysing Families: Morality and Rationality in Policy and Practice, London: Routledge, pp 199217.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J. and Evans, R. (2020) The Cross-cultural problem of categories: who is ‘child’ and what is ‘family’, in S. Frankel and S. NcNamee (eds) Bringing Children Back into the Family: Relationality, Connectedness and Home, Bingley: Emerald Publishing, pp 2340.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J. and Prokhovnik, R. (2014) Embodied relationality and caring after death, Body & Society, 20(2): 1843. doi: 10.1177/1357034X13506469

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J., Doolittle, M. and Day Sclater, S. (2012) Understanding Family Meanings: A Reflective Text, Bristol: Policy Press.

  • Ribbens McCarthy, J., Hooper, C.A. and Gillies, V. (2013) Troubling normalities and normal family troubles: diversities, experiences and tensions, in J. Ribbens McCarthy, C.A. Hooper and V. Gillies (eds) Family Troubles: Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People, Bristol: Policy Press, pp 122.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ribbens McCarthy, J., Woodthorpe, K. and Almack, K. (under review) The aftermath of death in the continuing lives of the living: extending ‘bereavement’ paradigms through family and relational perspectives, Sociology.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scott, J. (1997) Changing households in Britain: do families still matter?, Sociological Review, 45(4): 590620. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.00079

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stacey, M. (1981) The division of labour revisited, or overcoming the two Adams, in P. Abrams, R. Deem, J. Finch and P. Rock. (eds) Practice and Progress: British Sociology 1950–1980, London: George Allen & Unwin.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stoilova, M., Roseneil, S., Carter, J., Duncan, S. and Phillips, M. (2017) Constructions, reconstructions and deconstructions of ‘family’ amongst people who live apart together (LATS), British Journal of Sociology, 68(1): 7896. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12220

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thwaites, R. (2017) Changing Names and Gendering Identity, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Walter, T. (2020) How funerals accomplish ‘family’, OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 82(2):17595. doi: 10.1177/0030222818804646

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 61 61 61
Full Text Views 15 15 3
PDF Downloads 16 16 5

Altmetrics

Dimensions