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  • Author or Editor: Esther Muddiman x
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In this chapter, Esther Muddiman draws on qualitative data from interviews with 20 parents of teenagers to explore how parenthood disrupts, complements and triggers various types of civic engagement. The chapter describes how becoming a parent can limit an individual’s ability to maintain their commitment to existing voluntary activities/associational memberships, disrupting previous ties to civil society. However, it also finds that parenthood provides new opportunities for engagement, especially via educational institutions and parental networks; and that the transition to parenthood itself can lead individuals to reflect on their own relationship to society and the values that they would like to pass on to their children: the desire to role-model ‘good citizenship’ within the family home can act as a gateway for participation in civically-minded practices.

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In this chapter, Ceryn Evans, Esther Muddiman and Chris Taylor explore the relationship between participation in higher education and the formation of social and political attitudes and civic participation. Their interviews with graduates show that, in many cases, the university ‘experience’ simply confirms or reinforces prior attitudes. Nevertheless, for some students it is also clear that going to university triggers interest and participation in civil society. In particular, they find that studying arts, humanities and social science subjects, and the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular opportunities, appear to foster higher levels of social awareness and civic engagement.

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In this chapter, Jennifer May Hampton and Esther Muddiman turn their attention to a lifecourse event that affects older members of the family through focusing on how becoming a grandparent both hinders and fosters civic participation. Using a combination of panel data from the Understanding Society survey and interview data with grandparents, they show that levels of civic participation, and especially volunteering, vary according to the grandparent’s employment status. In addition to their own engagement in civil society, grandparents also play an important part in the intergenerational transmission of what might be seen as ‘civic virtues’.

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The relationship between the family and civil society has always been complex, with the family often regarded as separate from, or even oppositional to, civil society.

Taking a fresh empirical approach, Muddiman, Power and Taylor reveal how such separation underestimates the important role the family plays in civil society. Considering the impact of family events, dinner table debates, intergenerational transmission of virtues and the role of the mother, this enlightening book draws on survey data from 1000 young people, a sample of their parents and grandparents, and extended family interviews, to uncover how civil engagement, activism and political participation are inherited and fostered within the home.

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This chapter provides an overview of the relationship between civil society and the family. Despite the family’s central role in social, cultural (and biological) reproduction, it is largely absent from the majority of contemporary literature on civil society. This is surprising given the continued importance of family life in the routines and responsibilities of individuals around the world. Ideas (or ideals) about family life colour one’s decisions about where to work, where to live and how to spend one’s time and money. This book explores the extent to which family relationships and connections can help in understanding civic and political engagement. Exploring the relationship between civil society and the family is important not only to fill a gap in the literature, but also because the family will become an increasingly important agent of social change.

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This chapter discusses the paradoxical positioning of the family and civil society. This paradox arises from the ways in which civil society is variously defined through a series of binary oppositions — in relation to each of which the family sits uneasily. The chapter begins by outlining how the ‘family’ has traditionally been conceptualised in relation to civil society. These representations are not only contradictory, but also based on value-laden representations of both the family and civil society that are ideologically rather than empirically underpinned. In general, within much of the academic literature, there has been a tendency to uphold the virtues of the ‘public sphere’ against the self-interestedness of the ‘private sphere.’ The chapter concludes by arguing for the importance of empirical rather than just theoretical research on the interface between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’.

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This chapter examines the challenges of, and opportunities afforded by, undertaking research with families. The home is normally regarded as an intensely private place, and it is rare for a non-family member to be given insights into family practices, allegiances, and ruptures. The chapter then outlines the study’s mixed-methods approach, which combines a multigenerational questionnaire with numerous conversations with parents and grandparents, as well as a family tree mapping exercise. The study combines these methods to explore the extent to which the ‘relational, embedded and connected’ nature of everyday life contributes to the inheritance or abandonment of particular forms of civic engagement. The chapter also introduces the study participants. Although predominantly white, the families vary significantly in terms of their household make-up and socioeconomic circumstances. The chapter concludes with some caveats that should help one to contextualise and interpret the empirical research presented in the following chapters.

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This chapter evaluates all of those factors that might complicate the straightforward sharing of values and practices between different family members. The family is widely regarded as a socialising agent, and parents, in particular, are seen to play a pivotal role in providing their children with a framework for interpreting and navigating the social world. However, there are manifold other events, relationships, and experiences that combine to shape an individual’s perspective of, and engagement with, civil society. Drawing on survey, interview, and family tree data, the chapter considers the range of influences that participants identified, highlighting some of the things that might frustrate the intergenerational sharing of values and practices. It also looks at variation and difference within families, investigating how the bringing together of two previously unconnected families through marriage or partnership is negotiated in relation to social and political perspectives.

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This chapter explains that it is in the area of religious practice that the uncertainties of intergenerational transmission are most clearly demonstrated. All available evidence indicates that religious affiliation is inherited from parents. However, that is only part of the story. The chapter focuses on the precariousness of religious transmission and seeks to explore: first, what family and lifecourse events appear to disrupt an inheritance of faith; and, second, what the implications are for young people’s civic engagement. In addition to examining the levels and processes of the intergenerational transmission of faith (or its absence), it discusses how religious affiliation is reflected in particular kinds of associational membership, levels of volunteering, and other kinds of social activism.

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This chapter assesses the central role that mothers and grandmothers play in sharing civic and pro-social values with younger generations. The data suggest that positive intergenerational relationships with female family members are associated with meaningful or mutually beneficial civic participation. Accounts from mothers and grandmothers in the study indicate that they play important roles in maintaining family closeness over time and suggest that (in)formal voluntary work is often seen as an extension of the maternal caring role. This is suggestive of a matrilineal transmission of civic values, with mothers and grandmothers as the most significant agents, and offers strong support to the arguments long made by feminist scholars for better recognition of the role of women in civil society. Here, the data portray the domestic or personal domain as a political space.

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