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Abundant research in adjacent disciplines shows forgiveness (including forgiving, not forgiving, being forgiven and not being forgiven) to be an ordinary feature of how personal relationships are maintained, repaired and rescinded. Sociologists, however, have scarcely considered forgiveness at all. This article shows why sociologists of personal life should be interested in forgiveness, and how this contributes to sociological interpretations of conflict and repair in relationships. It is argued that sociologists of personal life should be interested in forgiveness because it seems to be part of the ordinary vernacular through which relationships are made sense of. It is also argued that sociologists of personal life can deliver a perspective on forgiveness in relationships that is missing from existing forgiveness research agendas.

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In this article, I investigate the social organising of a process leading up to a Somali single parent I call Maryam receiving a letter from the Norwegian child protection services (CPS). Using institutional ethnography, I show how Maryam’s experience is shaped by generalised, objectified understandings that transcend the relations she has at specific points in time; by what Dorothy Smith labels ruling relations. Based on Maryam’s story about the process leading up to the letter from the CPS, but also on documents connected to her case and other interviews with her, I show how she is constructed as a mother lacking knowledge and needing help, and how she is constructed as a suspicious mother when she declines this help – and the role of generalising, objectifying understandings in this process.

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This article deals with the causes and consequences of divorce in a group of women with minor children in Spain, a country in Southern Europe that presents a pre-eminently familistic character based on a marked division of gender roles. We detected an imbalance between qualitative and quantitative studies on this topic, of which the latter are more numerous in the recently published literature. For this reason, here we wish to show the people behind the data by conferring two questions making up the analysis axes of this research. First, we deal with the causes of couple breakups, which are related to inequality in the distribution of housework and care tasks in all cases. Second, we analyse their speeches about work and family conciliation after divorce, with particular importance given to the presence, or not, of a strong family network.

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Based on lengthy ethnographic fieldwork in Southwest China, this article unpacks how precarity and migration have deeply shaped young migrant workers’ understanding and experiences of friendship. The precarious work and living conditions compel young migrants to put more emphasis on the instrumental aspects of friendship, in which they deeply value friends’ help and practical support, which also intertwine closely with the emotional aspects of friendship. High mobility does not mean that migrants are not able to form and maintain ‘meaningful’ social relationships; rather, it is friends’ support and help which sustain migrants’ precarious and highly mobile ways of living. This article also discusses the burdens and risks that are associated with such friendship practices, and how, despite these ‘dark sides of friendship’, young migrant workers still largely rely on their friends to survive and keep going in the city.

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Couple relationships and money practices are intimately connected. Money can often cause disagreement and conflict within couples and represents symbolic values and expectations between partners. This study adopts a practices approach to exploring money practices among Swedish couples in the third age (60–80 years old) through 17 semi-structured interviews. We focus particularly on how money practices constitute and are constituted by dimensions of ‘being and doing couple’. We find that money practices both reflect and constitute couplehood. Our analysis has revealed that money practices are interlinked with couplehood through the primary themes of togetherness, fairness and trust, independence and finally, a reluctance to imagine oneself outside of couplehood, for other reasons than widowhood.

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Names have heightened importance in adoption, affecting the identities of individuals who are adopted and adoptive family making. In this article, we use critical discourse analysis to gauge how names, and especially children’s forenames, are addressed in the specificities of legal and policy texts governing and guiding the milieu of people affected by adoption in England. We argue that the inclusions, omissions and opacity of content on names we uncover are outcomes of underlying representations of ‘family’ within the texts, whereby ‘family surnaming’ is constructed as the pre-eminent naming issue in adoption, above children’s forename-based identity rights. Our focus on names in adoption advances sociological understandings of the power of names in representing family relationships and individual identities, and of how official discourses of law and policy can privilege some types of relationships over others, and the rights of some family members over others.

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In England and Wales, domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) seek to build a picture of the circumstances preceding a domestic abuse-related death, identify any learning and make recommendations for change. Drawing on data from document analysis of 60 DHR reports, this article explores how a victim’s real name is routinely taken out of use when a DHR report is published and, to disguise their identity, is usually replaced with a pseudonym or some other nomenclature like initials/letters. I report on the name forms used in place of a victim’s real name and the limited explication of both how (pseudo)names were chosen and the role of the family. By exploring how names are used, I argue for a recognition of the assumptions and complexity at the heart of DHRs concerning the place of the victim, family and state, and identify implications for practice, policy and research.

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There has been an increase in the number of individuals who do not have children for various reasons, whether health, choice or circumstance, as well as those who have children later in the lifecourse. Concurrently, there is a moral panic surrounding the decreasing birth rate. A thematic analysis of posts on the parenting forum Mumsnet explores the significance of childless/freeness, in the context of wider relationships. We find that established categories of ‘mother’ and ‘childless/free’ are reductive, and are more porous than usually framed. We consider the impact of such categories on women’s friendships, finding that they undermine potential solidarities. Drawing on Scott (), we conceptualise the absence of children as significant, but not necessarily a deficit, highlighting the potential to understand childless/freeness in the everyday.

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Relatively few studies have addressed the division of labour during the first pregnancy, a period in which the couple is restructured as a result of its new parental role. This study is aimed at exploring how heterosexual couples residing in Santiago de Chile organise the division of paid, domestic and caregiving work, and what arguments support their choices. A qualitative, cross-sectional and multiple-case methodology was employed. Interviews were held with ten couples during their first pregnancy. A hybrid thematic analysis revealed that the transition to parenthood is marked by the traditionalisation of gender roles, with certain differences related to socioeconomic status being observed. Results are discussed in light of co-responsibility and gender norms in Latin America, while their implications for family dynamics and public policy are presented.

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The South African Children’s Act, 2005 defines ‘care’ to include safeguarding all aspects of a child’s wellbeing. Despite this obligation falling equally on both parents, studies have shown that mothers in South Africa continue to take greater responsibility for childcare than fathers. Using the most recently available nationally representative quantitative data on physical and financial childcare, collected for the National Income Dynamics Study, this article presents a detailed overview of the involvement in childcare of men compared with women, and fathers compared with mothers. The article includes examining the gender and parental division in assistant childcare, investigating the role played by absent parents in regular physical and financial care, and analysing the gender division in household income of households in which children live.

Open access