Family sociology as a theoretical enterprise? A personal reflection

View author details View Less
  • 1 Open University and University of Reading, , UK
Full 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.

Abstract

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.

Introduction

Is family sociology a theoretical enterprise, and what does this question entail? For this special issue I consider family sociology as a theoretical exercise through the perspective of David Morgan’s work as a British academic who has had a major impact on the sociological study of families over decades. I review this work from his earliest monographs, which directly addressed theory, to his more nuanced but ever-present theoretical concerns in his later writing. Family Connections, his 1996 monograph, marked a notable turning point, introducing his key concept of ‘family practices’ and shifting his overall approach in a more ‘fuzzy’ direction. At the same time, in Family Connections he also set out some core theoretical themes for family sociology to retain. Here I seek to celebrate the continuing significance of his work for theoretical sociology, while also taking a constructively critical stance to consider some potential lacunae in David’s work that invite further attention, including:

  • a stronger focus on theorising ‘practices’, which has risked downplaying the significance of everyday meanings of ‘family’;

  • a pervasive focus on the perspectives and social lives of affluent Minority countries, most notably the UK, that limits analysis and reflection; and, in many ways linked to this Anglophone view,

  • an explicit concern to critique ‘collectivities’, but the absence of a similar critique of the ‘individual’.

In my discussion, in the best tradition of embracing the auto/biographical (Cotterill and Letherby, 1993; Coslett et al, 2000; Morgan, 2011c), I interweave references to my own sociological biography in my engagement with David’s work. Feminist standpoint theory (Harding, 2004) has argued for many years for the recognition that academic debates are situated in time and space, occurring through particular socially shaped and embodied biographical histories – concerns currently receiving further significant recognition through decolonisation approaches (Bhambra, 2021; Meghji, 2021).

My doctoral research started (1986) from the realisation that sociology in the 1980s had very little to say about gender, notably women’s lives in general, and women’s lives with their children in particular. This realisation arose from my own experience as a White English woman with young children, including teaching A-level sociology to return-to-study young women. Sociology treated family as a ‘black box’, an ‘institution’ within the overall fabric and structures of society. How women experienced their lives with their children did not really figure at all (notable exceptions being the doctoral studies of Oakley, 1976; Backett, 1982 and Boulton, 1983). ‘Society’ comprised what happened in the public spheres of social life, rather than the family-based social interactions of domestic spaces, seen as the province of psychologists and psychiatrists. But in wanting to study mothers and their children for my doctoral work, it was a sociological theoretical lens that I sought.

It was in this scenario that David had started to make such a significant contribution – which, in his own account (1996), happened largely by chance. His first monograph (1975) in this field, Social Theory and the Family, explored what he identified as a ‘gap’ between mainstream sociological accounts of the family (including both Parsonian functionalist accounts as well as Marxist functionalism), and more critical discussions of family developed by radical psychiatrists such as Laing (1960) and Cooper (1972), and by the important growing critique from feminism. But, in these dominant sociological ‘grand’ theories, what happens in the ‘micro’ world of the family was seen to be determined by the ‘macro’ worlds of ‘society’ – a perspective identifiable ‘in some versions of Marxism and feminism, most versions of systems theorising and in the traditional version of functionalism’ (Morgan, 1985: 280).

David’s texts were therefore a cornerstone for my doctoral work, along with the crucial contributions of Margaret Stacey (1981) on the gendered sociological marginalisation of the private in favour of the public, and the historical work of Leonore Davidoff (1990) on the construction of domestic space during industrialisation. It was a natural progression to identify David as the sociologist I wanted to examine my thesis. As Jamieson observes in relation to her own doctoral examination some years before my own, David not only offered an outstanding critique of theorising on family, he also seriously engaged with feminism as a male theorist who ‘did so without any warning signs of tokenism’ (2020: 509).

What ‘counts’ as sociological theory has of course changed significantly in the years since then, with a reorientation away from ‘big’ theory. In later writings David refers to sociological ‘analysis’ rather than ‘theory’, and to ‘main currents in sociological thought’ (2011c: 2.4). But it is clear that he continued to value and develop family sociology as an enterprise requiring interactive engagement with theory, to the mutual benefit of family analysis and theoretical development – a view that still informs my own work.

Further, family studies as a broad field has much to gain from these theoretical frameworks. Family sociology has something very particular to offer, drawing on theoretical perspectives that are not rooted in psychological or social work concerns, often asking quite different questions even as we examine similar familial topics. (Indeed, this journal exemplifies the benefits of debates framed within diverse disciplines.) David himself highlighted (1985) the medicalisation of family life back in the 1980s, and undertook a sociological analysis of this development. This discussion in itself demonstrates how his critical sociological perspective enabled him to stand outside the developing tendency for academic work on family lives to be driven by either policy agenda or an interventionist, medicalised agenda – perspectives which risk limiting the analysis and the capacity for social critique.

David’s own theorising of families and relationships of course developed over the years in ways that resonated with broader shifts in sociological theoretical approaches. His third book, Family Connections (1996), constituted something of a turning point in this regard, at a time when postmodern and feminist theorising were having a strong impact. This is where he first introduced his concept of ‘family practices’, which has since been taken up so widely, across a range of topics. Indeed, the productiveness of the concept is very apparent in many of the contributions to this special issue. But it may be useful to reflect critically on why it is important to set that concept into a broader context of David’s writing, to retain his contribution in highlighting aspects of the theoretical relevance of family sociology, and its centrality for sociology as a discipline. Indeed, as Berard (2005) argues, the term ‘practices’, alongside that of ‘structures’, has in effect reframed and continued the more general debates regarding micro and macro levels in society that David’s earlier writings had discussed.

Pivotal significance of Family Connections

I have a clear recollection of a conversation with David during the early 1990s when he spoke with some excitement about a new text he was writing on family sociology but using a very different approach – which he later described as somewhat ‘fuzzy’. Family Connections demonstrated how ‘family’ is a lens relevant to a wide range of important sociological substantive and theoretical topics, with chapters that include: work, employment and the household; stratification; gender; care; the body; time and space; food; and the home. David demonstrated how family sociology is not a side issue, nor is it confined to particular sites such as domestic space (as Gubrium and Holstein, 1990, had also been arguing), but is an integral feature of social lives that has a bearing on every arena, even if not always fore-fronted, with ‘family themes woven into other sociological concerns’ (Morgan, 1996: 14). After all, as David observed, the earlier community studies, which had formed key texts of 1960s sociology, included family and domestic relationships as integral.

In his introductory chapter to Family Connections, David reviewed his previous theoretical discussions, and staked out the key themes which he considered central for family sociology. Yet he also wrote (1996: 3) of the 1980s that ‘Developments in theory (apart from feminist theory) seemed to have little time for the apparent trivia of domestic life. Family sociology was certainly not sexy […].’

But in my doctoral work, it was precisely the ‘apparent trivia of domestic life’ that I had set out to study, and which appeared to be neglected by feminist writing itself. As David (1996: 10) also observed, there was ‘some measure of tension’ between the concerns of feminist studies and family studies.

But despite the general marginalisation of family in the sociological theorising of the 1980s, David also argued that it was during this decade that ‘family sociology developed partly as a subject in its own right but even more so as a crucial element in some of the key areas within British sociology as a whole’ (1996: 4).

This argument was the raison d’être for Family Connections, and certainly British family sociology has blossomed and flourished in the decades since then. But how far has it actually become integrated into mainstream sociological theory, and/or treated as a central feature of all social life, in the ways that it had been integrated in the community studies of the 1960s? Certainly my own experience has been that, in teaching terms, family sociology still tends to be relegated to the sociological margins, subsumed under gender and sexuality at best – as David himself observed back in the 1990s – or side-lined by psychological approaches, and of interest only if it features in professional training programmes: for example, for nurses or social workers. And yet, as Jacqueline Scott evidenced in her 1997 study of what matters to people, family lives and relationships are central to people’s lived experiences, and might therefore reasonably be seen as a central concern of sociological theory.

In his introductory chapter of Family Connections, David most notably introduced the notion of ‘family practices’ in the context of discussing definitional issues, and proposed the advantages of using the term ‘family’ as an adjective rather than a noun, thus avoiding ‘pre-ordained categories’. But he was not arguing to move away from the term ‘family’ as such; rather, the term should be a topic for exploration, ‘often contested, publicly available, and often very powerful’ (1996: 11). Using it as an adjective, he argued, could serve to identify particular practices that the participants regard as ‘different’ in some way.

But this introductory chapter also did more, in identifying significant theoretical concerns and continuities for family sociology to retain and pursue. In continuing to value some of the Marxist discussions of family in the 1980s, David argued, family sociology should:

  • be historically informed;

  • consider the interplay of macro and micro levels;

  • examine the linkages between family lives and a range of inequalities; and

  • allow for the possibility of change through human agency.

In these ways, David clearly highlighted the key continuing relevance of family sociology as a theoretical enterprise, of core concern to the discipline as a whole.

This list of key theoretical issues may be seen to be underpinned by the need to connect personal lives and relationships to broader social patterns, such as age, class, sexuality, gender or ethnicity, which may also represent historically embedded structures of inequality. In this regard, David’s theoretical perspective was explicitly linked to the theoretical tradition of C. Wright Mills (1959 [2000]: 5–7):

The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals […] The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between these two within society […] It is the capacity to range from the most remote and impersonal transformations to the most intimate features of the human self – and to see the relations between the two.

David’s approach resonates strongly with this view, encouraging the sociologist to explore ‘the connections between his or her own experiences of family life and wider patterns of historical and cultural change’ (2004: 607). And in these matters, he raises key questions about the nature and direction of these connections, but always with the awareness of time and space, resources and power.

Further, but perhaps more implicitly, David raised additional theoretical issues, which continue to resonate over the decades, about how to understand what it means to be connected with others through family and other forms of relationships. In considering the tensions between feminist work and family sociology, he discussed how the focus of the former was on gender and sexual oppression, leading to an emphasis on divisions within family lives, but ‘Family relationships are also about unities and patterns of co-operation […] family members do have some sense of solidarity and unity, for whatever reasons, and these identities do have wider consequences’ (1996: 9).

These tensions between inequalities, divisions and power between family members, on the one hand, and solidarity, shared identities and unity on the other, are ones that family sociology still has to grapple with, in ways that continue to raise core sociological concerns of social order and social change, the interrelationships of public and private lives, and the personal and social significance of individuality and connectedness.

Agency and structure: the personal as political

Feminist academic work in the 1980s was, of course, occurring alongside feminism as a political and personal movement, with ‘consciousness-raising’ linking ‘the personal as political’. And, indeed, the theme of human agency as a force for change has become very central to much work on family lives and relationships (and also in childhood studies), which has, as David identified, continued to reflect its roots in symbolic interactionist perspectives and qualitative methodologies that put human actors centre stage. In this sense, family sociology has moved away from those perspectives (mentioned earlier), which treated family as a dependent variable of the macro structures of society (Morgan, 1985).

A recent example of ‘the personal as political’ is the work of Rachel Thwaites (2017) on the decisions women in the UK make about whether or not to take their husbands’ surnames on marriage. Thwaites examines what may seem to be a very personal, unremarkable, decision about names1 that has little sociological significance, and demonstrates how far such personal decisions both reflect, but also shape, wider social patterns, in this case concerning the social organisation of gender, mediated through the entanglements of personal relationships.

Thwaites places such ‘mundane’, often taken-for-granted decisions within a framework that implicates tradition, ideas about individual ‘choice’, power and politics, emotion work, and the ‘displaying’ and ‘doing’ of family. Similarly focused on marital expectations in the UK, Carter and Duncan (2017) frame the tension between tradition and individualisation through the concept of ‘individualised conformity’. Such work points to further questions about personhood, extending to the realms of personal identity and sense of connectedness, even perhaps, being ‘bound up’ with others (Ribbens McCarthy and Prokhovnik, 2014). This, in turn, raises issues of relationality (the Anglophone term) (Prandini, 2015; Mauthner, 2021) or, in an African context, ubuntu (Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020; discussed later). What appears as deeply personal is thus linked, theoretically, to the significance of family and relationships, and thence to broad patterns of power and inequality, in ways that evoke Bernardes’ (1986) concept of ‘structured beingness’, or Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ (Maton, 2008).

A current example concerns the COVID-19 pandemic, with certain patterns having become widely apparent regarding which groups are at greater risk of death through this pernicious virus, drawing attention to both ethnicity and deprivation. This has become a matter of public and political concern, as seen in a television documentary broadcast in March 2021, which raised a central sociological question: ‘Why is Covid killing people of colour?’ To answer this, the programme traced the connections between individual biology and health conditions, to family lives and neighbourhoods, and thence to historical inequalities of power and resources linked to ethnicity and social constructions of ‘race’.2

In tracing such patterns of death and dying, we might also raise questions about the aftermath of death in the continuing lives of the living – commonly discussed in terms of ‘bereavement’ and ‘grief’. These specifically Anglophone notions (Evans et al, 2016) conceptualise ‘grief’ in terms of individual internal processes, framed through psychological and medicalised interventionist perspectives designed to prevent ‘dysfunctional’ outcomes – resonating strongly with the 20th-century view of families and relationships as the province of psychology and psychiatry, rather than sociology. But it seems that this particular ‘family event’ (Morgan, 1985) has not (yet) been theorised through family sociology (Almack and Woodthorpe, 2021). Some exceptions here include a focus on (children’s) accounts of biographical disruption through family death (Jamieson and Highet, 2013), children’s perspectives and biographies interwoven with family deaths (Davies, 2019), and the implications for family and family relationships after a death (Finch and Mason, 2000; Almack, 2022; Walter, 2020; Ribbens McCarthy et al, under review). Family sociology has so much to offer here through the lens of family practices, with many of David’s theoretical concerns central to such a project: ‘families and troubles are mutually implicated […] families are constituted through the ways in which they respond to and create problems […] family boundaries are created and recreated through the engagement of family members with troubles’ (Morgan, 2019: 2227, 2229).

Core themes of David’s family sociology might thus be brought into play, including ‘family’ as a project over time, as a ‘unit’ with ‘boundaries’ to which people can belong, with implications for moral identities and relationality, as well as family display (Finch, 2007), and – potentially contested – ‘family’ meanings (Ribbens McCarthy, 2012). And, centrally, David’s highly regarded concept of ‘family practices’ has great potential for illuminating the aftermath of death over time and space as a ‘family’ event, speaking theoretically to the ways in which the personal is embedded in, and entangled with, social lives in other contexts and spaces, as well as with systemic patterns of inequalities of resources and power. I turn next to consider this fruitful concept more directly in terms of its theoretical purchase.

‘Family practices’ as theoretical sociology

My aim in developing this approach [of family practices] was to avoid some of the theoretical and political difficulties that can arise when talking about the family while continuing to recognize that family life remains a matter of some importance to a large section of the population. […] Every time that someone does something – offers care or advice, sends a text, cooks a meal – for someone else who is identified as being related in family terms, then we see that particular family configuration being reconstructed and reaffirmed. It may also be argued that, in addition, we see more general ideas of ‘family’ being reaffirmed. (Morgan, 2019: 2231)

Part of the attraction of the family practices approach, perhaps, lies in the way it enables a focus on the small everyday ‘doings’ of human actors within spheres of their lives that they consider to be ‘different’ (in David’s terms), bound up in some way with family and oriented to other family members. So, can his ‘turn’ to ‘family practices’ in 1996 be seen as a break from his earlier theoretical concerns, or rather, perhaps, a reformulation that decentred them but did not displace them? Here I will consider family practices as David himself did in his book, Rethinking Family Practices (2011a), by considering the theoretical implications through a focus, first, on practices, and second, on family.

In his chapter on practices (2011a) David takes us through various approaches to defining this term, starting from dictionary definitions and moving on to link up in various ways with existing sociological theorising. Pointing out the rather British tendency to see ‘practices’ as distinct from ‘theory’, he argues instead that theory and practice are interdependent – ‘theorising is necessarily implicated in practice’ (2011a: 20) – even while theory and everyday practices may implicate different sorts of abstractions. His discussion considers practices from several perspectives: the exercise of professional expertise; actions; habits; repetitions towards a particular outcome; or (drawing on older definitions of the term) as legal procedures; and as ‘scheming, conspiracy, collusions, or stratagems’ (2011a: 28). There are clear continuities here from his earlier works, including aspects of those he particularly identified as important in 1996. Thus his wide-ranging discussion of practices implicates aspects of:

  • the public/private nature of family lives, including their legal institutionalisation and the power dynamics between families and public agencies in which inequalities may play an important part;

  • the importance of power dynamics between family members;

  • habits (including personal habits) as relational, in terms of their effects on others, and also in their genesis, being part of the collective taken-for-granted;

  • the tension between agency and structure, which resonates with the tension between ‘actions’ and ‘habits’, the latter being understood to be coproduced with ‘habitus’ (in Bourdieusian terms), which is in turn linked centrally with wider inequalities.

In these terms, then, we see strong continuities with the theoretical concerns that David had identified as important to retain, 15 years previously. Although he himself reflected (2011a) on whether a focus on practices might underplay the historical dimension of family lives, he had also earlier (1996) seen the concept of family practices as having strong historical insights, both by linking history and biography, and also in terms of the historical construction of family meanings.

If we turn to his discussion of ‘family’ as part of ‘family practices’, this received attention in David’s initial introduction of the term in 1996, when, alongside his explicit endorsement of using ‘family’ as an adjective, he considered what it is that makes certain practices ‘different’, identifiable as ‘family’ practices, and what is signified by the term: ‘family practices are to do with those relationships and activities that are constructed as being to do with family matters’ (1996: 192).

Such constructions, he argued, are both created anew through the interpretive work of the actors involved, but also through historical processes over time. Consequently, additionally, ‘family practices are meaningful […] such practices can be identified as such and […] they have some degree of significance for the parties involved’ (1996: 192).

This significance means that family practices are ‘difficult to ignore’ (1996: 193), and also that they ‘provide particularly strong links between self and society’ (1996: 193) – another theoretical continuity with his earlier work.

David again discussed the question of what it is that marks certain practices as to do with family (while they may simultaneously be to do with gender, or parenting, and so on), both in his monograph, Rethinking Family Practices (2011a) and a book chapter in the same year (2011b). In the book, he endorsed David Cheal’s definition, with actions identifiable as family practices because they ‘have some effect on another family member’ (Cheal cited in Morgan, 2011a: 9), a definition which resonates with David’s own, earlier suggestion. Taken together, the overall argument is perhaps rather persistently circular, in that family practices are those practices which constitute family. But, indeed, David himself explicitly theorises this circularity: ‘[…] in carrying out these everyday practicalities, social actors are reproducing the sets of relationships (structures, collectivities) within which these activities are carried out and from which they derive their meaning’ (2011c: 2.7).

This account resonates with Bourdieu’s discussion of family, in which he argues that ‘family’ constitutes a ‘principle of construction’, a folk category which also helps ‘make the reality they describe’ (1996: 21, original emphasis). This duality, Bourdieu argues, is decisive for social order.

Nevertheless, there is perhaps a difference of emphasis here, with David arguably offering a more fluid notion of ‘family’ in relation to ‘family practices’. He thus suggests that the particular conjunction of family in the context of practices is significant in relation to a common thread in most practices approach, to critique ‘some standard sociological collectivities’ (2011c: 3.1). In a more recent discussion (2019) on the theme of ‘family troubles’, he considers in what senses ‘troubles’ may be identified as ‘family’ troubles and what difference that makes.

In a helpful discussion on the ‘framing’ of families (2011b), David suggests the increased fluidity of the concept of family in recent decades partly reflects actual lives and partly results from changing perceptions. There are three sets of people, he suggests, particularly involved in such framing: policy makers and practitioners, researchers, and people themselves. In regard to people themselves, he argues that their framing of family may often be implicit, varying according to different sorts of practices for different sorts of purposes. The common question when greeting a friend or acquaintance, ‘How’s the family?’, implicitly assumes that the listener will share sufficient reference points to know the meaning of the query. But in engaging in some sort of boundary work about what does or does not constitute ‘family’, David argues, people may consider family as having something distinctive, which limits how far the term might be applied to other forms of personal relationships – a question considered in some detail in his earlier co-authored article with Jamieson and colleagues (2006). Building on this earlier work in many ways, in his (2011b) chapter there is more extended discussion of what constitutes the ‘family’ in ‘family practices’, attending to the ‘interplay of discourses and practices’, and arguing that that these two aspects of family might be considered interdependent. And at times, over the years, he also offers (or falls back on?) some more ‘concrete’ reference points, in terms of parenthood, kinship and marriage (1996; 2003), or in terms of relational issues of dependency, mutuality and obligations (2019), elaborated and sedimented over time.

In thus considering the relevance of how practices are perceived and framed as ‘family’, David’s discussion shifts sometimes between ‘meanings’ and ‘discourses’. His usage of ‘discourse’ in his book (2011a) is largely understood through a Foucauldian perspective as a vehicle for the public exercise of power, or as resonating strongly with the term ‘ideology’ in terms of ‘the families we live by’ rather than ‘the families we live with’ (Gillis cited in Morgan, 2011a: 68). Yet, at other times, David discusses everyday meanings of ‘family’ without analysing these in terms of ‘discourse’: ‘When the term [family] is used in everyday life it is not being deployed as an abstract and timeless category but as a flexible, and often highly localised, term that has immediate meaning to speakers and hearers at the time of its utterance’ (2011c: 4.3).

He also considers whether using the term ‘family’ places unnecessary limitations on the analysis, but prefers the alternative strategy of subjecting the term to critical scrutiny. He argues this, particularly, on the basis that there are issues about family that cannot be readily accommodated in other approaches, such as kinship, and, further, ‘discursive practices around such “family” relationships remain influential’ and have ‘undoubted abiding power’ (2011c: 4.13). Nevertheless, overall, his theoretical analysis of practices is much more extensive than his analysis of everyday meanings, discursive practices, and representations of the term ‘family’. Perhaps this is because he was simultaneously seeking to develop the underlying argument for the need to move away from using ‘family’ as a noun, as in ‘the family’. Consequently, there is perhaps an absence of detailed attention to the nature of the everyday language of ‘family’ in terms of its pervasiveness and variability in many contexts, as well as its very significant power as a term, including its strong emotional, normative and moral purchase (Ribbens McCarthy, 2012).3

Indeed, a number of research studies have explored this powerful language and its nuanced everyday meanings (for example, Morrow, 1998; Gillies et al, 2001; Langford et al, 2001; Becker and Charles, 2006; Davies, 2015; Stoilova, 2017) sometimes varying along such dimensions as class or ethnicity (Ribbens McCarthy et al, 2003 [2016]). Furthermore, public discourses, whether through advertisers or through politicians, clearly recognise the great power of the language and meanings of ‘family’.

The question of meanings and discourses is highlighted by Julie Seymour, in her introduction to a Lithuanian study of ‘families across borders’ (Juozeliūnienė and Seymour, 2020). In the research that Seymour introduces, meanings of family are key, with an analysis of ‘troubling’ family discourses concerning migrant families in newspaper reports and academic publications, an analysis which contextualises family practices in ‘specific socio/economic/legal circumstances’ (2020: 22). At the same time, in their own family practices across geographical space, Lithuanian family members may resist and sometimes seek to amend these discourses. Here we can see the value of analysing ‘family’ in terms of everyday meanings as well as discourses, alongside family practices and family display (Finch, 2007; discussed later).

In a recent publication, David again referenced the importance of meanings alongside family practices, discussing the relational and configurational contexts in which practices occur, which

give meaning to events and activities. These meanings may be ‘family meanings’, defining and redefining the nature of the relationships within this particular family and the way in which gender and generation are played out in this particular context. […] Family practices are, among other things, meaning creating practices. (Morgan, 2019: 2232–3)

David (2011a) particularly valued Janet Finch’s (2007) introduction of the term ‘family display’, as a development of his family practices approach, which perhaps resonates also with Bourdieu’s theme of ‘family as a realized category’. ‘Family display’ draws attention to the importance of the gaze of others, in a variety of settings, for confirming, or otherwise, whether certain practices constitute family. In this sense, ‘family’ not only has to be ‘done’ through certain practices, it has to be ‘seen to be done’ if it is to be confirmed as ‘family’, particularly given the contemporary fluidity of the meanings of the term.

This then signifies the importance of how ‘private’ family lives relate, not only to ‘internal’ processes of how family boundaries and membership may be at stake, but also to a more ‘public’ gaze, such as going out for a family meal, or away for a family holiday. Somewhat similarly, the term ‘troubling families’ also implicates boundaries of ‘public and private’, pointing to questions of how some families may come to be defined as ‘troubling’, by whom, and on what basis (Ribbens McCarthy et al, 2013). Here again, we find broader patterns of inequalities and power imbricated across time and space, revealing how ‘personal troubles’ are linked with ‘public issues of social structure’ (Mills, 1959 [2000]: 8).

Beyond Anglophone contexts

However, much family sociology has been focused on affluent Anglophone societies, something which David explicitly recognised (2011a) in his own work. A major question therefore concerns how far the term ‘family practices’ is applicable to other sociolinguistic and cultural contexts, outside these affluent Anglophone societies. David himself suggested that this was primarily a pragmatic question, and perhaps this requires careful empirical analytic attention to the significance of using the word ‘family’ in diverse contexts of meaning.

Certainly, empirical work on family meanings and discourse has been largely limited to affluent Anglophone and Western European contexts (Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020), and there is a central need to step back to consider whether and how the term ‘family’ translates, how to identify ‘family’ practices, and what meanings the term may invoke, in diverse sociolinguistic contexts.

In research on family deaths in Senegal (Evans et al, 2016) we initially paid considerable attention to questions of translation in regard to the terms ‘bereavement’ and ‘grief’ (Evans et al, 2017), and it was only later (Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020) that we directly considered the translation and meanings of the word ‘family’, even though the research interviews had included questions about what family meant to participants. In later discussions with our Senegalese translator, Fatou Kébé, we learned that the Wolof word she had used in the interviews in place of ‘family’ was mbokk. Diop (1981[2012] discussed by Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020) derives this term from the word bokk which he translates as meaning partager or avoir en commun in French, or in English, ‘to share’, or ‘have in common’ (the same ancestors, the same blood). In teasing apart aspects of living arrangements, kinship terms, and the centrality of ‘family’ for life in Senegal, we concluded:

This account of ‘family’ as a categorical term4 in urban Senegal presents a complex picture, with entanglements between ethnic groups, cultural values and religion, between former colonizer and colonized, and between post-colonial nation states based on European legal systems and African customs and expectations, with varying power dynamics at play and uneven and partial changes over time. And all these nuances shift across different linguistic terms and their translations. Overall, we may say that the term ‘family’ was understood by participants in our research in very broad terms, by reference to what is shared and found in common, underpinned by, and fostering, a sense of ubuntu. (Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020: 35)

In African contexts the notion of ‘ubuntu’ provides for a profoundly relational understanding of personhood, in which ‘I am because we are one’ (Kamwangamalu, 1999; Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020). And, indeed, such a version of personhood reveals how far the utterly taken-for-granted sociolinguistic cultural understandings of ‘the individual’, apparent in Anglophone worlds, may be significantly out of step with many peoples across the world in which ‘who I am does not end at the boundary of my skin’ (Eyetsemitan, 2021). Indeed, Praeg (2008) suggests that ‘ubuntu’ cannot be translated into English without some of its meaning ‘slipping away’. Moving beyond Anglophone contexts thus points to a further strand of increasing concern to sociological theorising that was missing in David’s discussions. While he valued ‘practices’ for helping to critique key, taken-for-granted, sociological collectivities, such as ‘family’, the notion of ‘the individual’ was not similarly scrutinised. In this he was hardly alone, as ‘the individual’ has not been critically considered in the great majority of Anglophone social sciences. And while a theoretical sociological critique of the individual has been growing in recent years (Prandini, 2015), including in family sociology (Ribbens McCarthy and Edwards, 2002; Mauthner, 2021), the notion of ‘the individual’ is also central to everyday parenting practices (as something unique to be nurtured), and may be in constant tension with family practices (Ribbens, 1994).

Concluding reflections

This article has focused on family sociology as a theoretical enterprise, as a central part of David Morgan’s contribution and work over many decades. Since the 1970s, his publications placed families as central to theoretical sociology and core sociological debates, and offered his own particular – enduringly valuable – perspectives on family in the context of these debates. His work emphasised family lives as a central part of personal worlds, linking ‘the self’ into broader social contexts. In this, families constitute crucial areas for sociological analysis, with such analysis carrying and invoking major theoretical implications: ‘The importance of family life is not simply the product of bourgeois or patriarchal ideology (although these play their part) but arises in very complex ways out of everyday life itself’ (Morgan, 2011a: 175).

In the course of the discussion, I have considered women’s choices about their marital names, and the aftermath of death as a ‘family event’ (Morgan, 1985), to exemplify how the apparently mundane aspects of family lives have central sociological significance. The publication of David’s book, Family Connections (1996), may be seen as pivotal in introducing his concept of ‘family practices’, which might in some ways appear to have indicated a shift away from his central engagement with sociological theory, but I have traced how the earlier theoretical themes that he particularly valued are carried forward through his discussions of ‘family practices’ (Morgan, 2011a). In many ways the term may at first sight appear deceptively straightforward and uncomplicated, but David himself, as I have sought to present here, took great care over many years to analyse the theoretical and conceptual significance and implications of (both parts of) the term.

But in reviewing the term, and its important contribution, I have also suggested that there is perhaps a risk of overshadowing and neglecting the importance of ‘family meanings’. Could David himself perhaps have done more to engage with a hermeneutic and/or discourse analytic approach to ‘family’ as a term, to explore its meanings in a variety of contexts? In this regard, he appears never to have engaged with the work of Gubrium and Holstein (1990),5 which might perhaps have been a missed opportunity. Yet his discussion in various publications over the years certainly centred on what is special or significant about family practices as distinct from other practices. And, considering this question of what is ‘special’, he pointed to the everyday qualities which make family practices seem inevitable and ‘natural’, as well as closely interconnected with morality, religion and sexuality (1996), or, in slightly different terms, with time, space, bodies, emotions and ethics (2011a).

Nevertheless, David himself remarked (2001) that he was surprised that no one had critiqued him for downplaying family discourse, and he suggested that others had taken up the concept because they ‘were attracted to the idea of “doing” family and the fluidity of the topic’ (2011c: 1.3). Yet, in Bourdieusian terms, it is through meaningful symbols of some sort, such as sociolinguistic processes of naming and representation, that collections of individuals become groups such as families (Berard, 2005). If others draw on family practices with an empirical and analytic focus on ‘practices’ rather than ‘family’, there is a risk, perhaps, of overlooking how (far) practices are also constructing family in the process. And, similarly, there is a risk of overlooking the degree of variability in ‘family’ meanings, including within Anglophone societies, with practices feeding into, as well as being shaped by, this diversity. Even within apparently similar histories and socioeconomic circumstances, people’s family imaginaries are subtle and variable in ways that may be consequential (Finch and Morgan, 2021). Perhaps Barad’s concept of the material-discursive (discussed by Mauthner, 2021) may help us move beyond any notion that meanings/discourses and practices/contexts can be understood without reference to the other.

So, does family sociology constitute a theoretical enterprise? In David’s writings, it most certainly does, and I would argue that this is a crucial element of what is valuable about taking a sociological lens to focus on families. Besides David’s earlier macro theoretical discussions, he also contributed with thoughtful and insightful skill to theoretical discussions via conceptual or analytic thinking (Morgan, 2001). Over the body of his work, for example, he drew our attention to ‘boundaries’, with families as bounded complex units (1996: 48), and the product of women’s work (1996: 58). His concern with the significance of time underpins his notion of ‘family projects’ (1985), for which class is an important aspect (1996: 59, 69), implicating his long-standing concerns with social inequalities (itself a long-standing feature of family sociology more generally), which he later linked directly with family practices (Jamieson et al, 2006). In the productive and important work that has flourished around the analytic concept of ‘family practices’, I hope we will heed such reminders from David not to lose sight of the crucial significance of how broader social patterns – structures, if you like – are both played out in, and constituted by, family practices and family meanings. And indeed, what ‘counts’ as ‘family’ (for example, in terms of family display or troubling families) may itself be a very significant form of power dynamic. So my concern is also to be aware of the risk (that David himself mentioned) of ‘downplaying’ the significance of family meanings and family discourses as key social processes for framing the powerful significance of family in varied locations.

This in turn points to the need to widen and reconsider how family practices may be identifiable, and significant, in locations beyond the Anglophone worlds in which David’s work was based and in which his contribution has been so productive. This ‘family’ aspect of ‘family practices’ carries major implications for cross-cultural work, as I have discussed here by reference to the meanings of ‘family’ in an urban West African context. The question of how far, or in what ways, the term ‘family practices’ might be useful beyond affluent Anglophone contexts was not one that David himself addressed. Drawing on work from Senegal, I have also explored what may be happening when we translate ‘family’ into sociolinguistic contexts that are not Anglophone. And in turn, this has pointed to issues about how far David’s work, like so much of Anglophone academic work, fails to examine the taken-for-granted notion of ‘the individual’. In the context of the global challenges humanity faces today, deconstructing the individual may be a central and valuable theoretical challenge, in which perspectives from beyond Anglophone worlds may have much to offer, perhaps highlighting what may be shared and held in common.

Additionally, further issues arise about how inequalities may be seen to link to family practices when we expand the canvas to consider the UK as a historical imperial power and a contemporary neocolonial power, which Bhambra and Holwood (2021) argue is an important absence but implicit presence in the original canon of modern social theory. Consequently, sociology ‘hasn’t always addressed [the] global dimension [of structural inequalities] and the lasting impact of colonialism and empire’ (Bhambra, 2021). Such an expanded canvas is significant for theorising contemporary family practices in the UK and also in post/neocolonial locations such as Senegal. This is all the more significant when we bear in mind David’s own strong concern for understanding families as historically embedded.

At the same time, there is a further purchase, I believe, in continuing to value and develop the distinctiveness of a sociological contribution, rooted in theoretical sociological debates, to the study of family lives and relationships, to step outside the medicalised/interventionist agenda of much family studies, which David first identified almost forty years ago (1985). And it needs a distinctive sociological theoretical framework for getting beyond the idea that we can simply deal with social issues by ‘adding in’ social variables to psychological models.

Alongside these various areas for development, in this article I have been concerned to argue the need to retain David’s deeply elaborated and sophisticated recognition that families and relationships are absolutely central to understanding how wider patterns and structures occur, both for social order and social change, as well as reflecting broader inequalities and social divisions. We need David’s clearly sociological contribution to family studies, but we also need to boldly take such contributions into new terrains and areas of debate. I hope there are further theoretical insights to be mined in the relationship between family practices and those social worlds, to understand how what appear to be the bigger structures and patterns also depend on, and interconnect with, the practices and minutiae of daily lives, over space and time, often framed through the concerns and meanings of ‘family’.

Notes

1

Finch (2008) sets out more extensively some parameters for a sociology of naming, including the scope for names to indicate individuality and change, or continuity and family connections.

3

Indeed, it is apparent that ‘family’ talk was not a strong feature of David’s own childhood family experience (Finch and Morgan, 2021).

4

How far particular linguistic contexts frame ‘categorical’ thinking in fundamentally diverse ways is a further major issue in cross-cultural work, as argued in depth by Julienne (discussed further in Ribbens McCarthy and Evans, 2020).

5

Gubrium and Holstein’s book (1990) asks ‘what is family?’, and explores how ‘family’ (as discourse) occurs in powerful ways across a whole variety of (extra domestic) contexts and features of social life.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  • 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 Burgess, R. and Murcott, A. (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
  • 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 Burgess, R. and Murcott, A. (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 0 0 0
Full Text Views 11 11 11
PDF Downloads 10 10 10

Altmetrics

Dimensions