Titles on our Children, Young People and Families list range from bestselling textbooks, including the Open University Childhood series, critical monographs such as those in the international Sociology of Children and Families series and the Families, Relationships and Societies journal.
Long-established, this interdisciplinary list brings together work across Childhood Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. It supports students in their successful study, challenges current policy and practice and offers practical guidance to those working with children and young people in often difficult circumstances.
Children, Young People and Families
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COVID-19-related social lockdowns had profound consequences in all aspects of social life, yet technology’s role in mediating relationships during lockdown has received little attention. Drawing on a survey of 565 young adults in the UK, we used mixed methods to explore (a) differences in technology use by people in serious romantic relationships (cohabiting vs. living apart together), casual relationships or single; and (b) how COVID-19 influenced long-term, serious relationships. For participants in a serious relationship, technology was used as a strategy to facilitate ongoing communication, enabling partners to achieve ‘intimacy from afar’. Qualitative analysis revealed five reasons (more free time, navigating lockdown restrictions, greater boredom, desire for love and miscellaneous) for online dating profile usage changes. People in serious relationships perceived deeper intimate bonds, boundary issues, less physical intimacy, difficulty with lockdown separation and greater negative impact because of COVID-19. Limitations and implications are discussed.
This article investigates the extent to which parents believe they are better than average parents using data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. The article builds on a long tradition of sociological research focusing on the interconnections between parenting, class, education and inequality. We find that mothers with low levels of education are more likely to say they are average or worse than average parents. Relatedly, we show that those who are highly educated are more likely to consider themselves as being better than average, even when a range of child and mother characteristics such as mother’s mental health and child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development are considered. These findings are linked to research showing how certain groups of parents are stigmatised or valorised in popular and political discourse. Our article also extends scholarship by examining the connection between parental mental health and parental competence beliefs.
As people live longer, there is an increasing possibility of couples becoming separated because one partner moves into a care home. Our qualitative mixed-method pilot study in an English town involved eight married couples aged over 65 years to explore experiences and practices of couplehood in these circumstances. This article focuses on the most striking emergent element of expressed couplehood in these now challenged long-term relationships: commitment. Drawing on in-depth (biographical) individual and joint interviews, observations and emotion maps, this article explores how separation affected the couples’ current sense and enactment of commitment to the relationship. Commitment in the partnership is now often one-sided. How committed the community-living partner feels – and its enactment – is heavily shaped by the shared history of happy and unhappy periods in the relationships, current contextual constraints, and family and institutional support.
This article examines children’s and parents’ positions as rights holders and family members in child welfare decision making as seen by social workers who prepare child removal decisions. The study is based on qualitative interviews with social workers, each of which includes the story of one child’s case. The interviews were conducted in Finland, where the consent or objection expressed by parents and children of a certain age determine the decision-making process, as each of them can independently express a view about the removal proposal. The study highlights how family relatedness shapes the parties’ autonomy and self-determination through intergenerational, interparental and other dynamics of emotional and power relations. Relational autonomy is emphasised more than individual autonomy in the social workers’ descriptions. It is suggested that self-determination needs to be refined so that it acknowledges family relatedness as well as individuals as rights holders.
The expansion of the UK’s support for families with children from the late 1990s was put into reverse over the decade from 2010. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, parents may have felt that they had less support from the government and increased private responsibility in bringing up the next generation. Drawing on qualitative interviews with parents in England and Scotland claiming Universal Credit, this article analyses parenting experiences for low-income families during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular concerning the costs of looking after children, caring for children, and family relationships/mental health. Our findings suggest that the privatisation of parenting in the UK has been further reinforced during the pandemic, with largely negative implications for families with children. The positive experiences for some with families must be supported by public policy change to persist.
Norms of filial obligation can predict how and whether children provide support to their ageing parents. Using a nationally representative sample, this study describes the degree to which Chilean adults adhere to these norms, and analyses which variables are associated with their degree of adherence to these norms. It found that adults are more likely to adhere to these norms when their parents require special care. Using linear regression models, this study also found that younger adults and those with fewer family responsibilities are more likely to adhere to these norms, as do people who are more educated and those who identify with a religious belief. Reciprocity in parent–child relationships also predict greater adherence.
Community playgroups are member-run parenting groups in Australia, aligned with early childhood services. Parents and carers meet weekly with their babies, toddlers and preschool children. Through interviews with mothers who attend community playgroups, I find that these playgroups are important sites of social support for parents. Social support is interwoven with parental and family identity, and the shift in identity when becoming a parent. This is demonstrated through three themes: making a connection, shared practices and language, and judgement and respect. Parents seek out a playgroup in which to belong, where they feel included and respected. These findings can inform the creation and operation of parenting groups.
The emotional and mental wellbeing of young carers is known to be poorer than their peers. Data from a large cross-sectional school survey of 7,477 12 to 14 year olds (72 per cent response rate) living in Cornwall, South West of England, were analysed to assess whether existing school-based interventions support the wellbeing of young carers. Outcome measures were derived from the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Young carers experienced greater emotional and mental wellbeing problems than their peers. Being eligible for free school meals did not attenuate these higher needs, indicating that broader support other than financial measures are needed, such as education, health and care plans which were associated with higher mental wellbeing among young carers. Early community and school-based interventions that consider the complex needs of young carers, especially emotional wellbeing, are needed.
The article’s subject occupies a place in research on the actor-centred sociology of childhood. Its objective is to discuss the social understandings of children that emerge from the social practices of childhood and is based on a research study carried out with the participation of new parents in 2016–18. This article presents a proposal for the categorisation of these practices and the results of the analysis of understandings of children as social actors (re)produced in them. Analysis of the social understandings of children from the point of view of practices can provide a new perspective by revealing the complexity of human subjectivity and its performativity, opening new possibilities in the field of studies on children and their agency in everyday lives.
This chapter analyzes the three types of religious wedding that are explicitly mentioned in the Marriage Act 1949: Anglican, Quaker, and Jewish weddings. It explains why these three types of wedding are accorded special treatment and the legal requirements that apply to them. It also shows how formal recognition brings its own constraints. It discusses how Anglican clergy have a duty to conduct the marriages of any persons who qualify to be married in their parish, regardless of the individuals’ beliefs, unless specifically exempted from doing so. It then shows how Quaker and Jewish weddings must take place within a certain authority structure and conform to their usages; in addition, Jewish weddings are only available where both parties are Jewish. Finally, it shows how the special treatment of these weddings exists despite the differences in how they are celebrated: there is no common core that differentiates them from other forms of wedding and justifies their special treatment.