This book goes to the heart of academic, political and popular debates, as well as professional concerns, about the nature of contemporary family life and parenting. Families are widely discussed in western societies as breaking down or as radically changing, with step-families in particular seen as evidence of such trends. In one of the first British in-depth sociological research studies for over two decades, this book provide evidence of parents' and step-parents' own understandings and experiences of their parenting in step-families.
It addresses questions such as: What does it mean to be a family? Do people in step-families see themselves as making a different kind of family? Is individual happiness in a couple relationship prioritised at the expense of responsibilities towards children? Can a step-parent ever be regarded as the same as a biological mother or father? What do people in step-families do to try to make step-family life work?
The book looks at how people create, understand and experience their parenting and family lives. It reveals how these understandings are rooted in a strong sense of moral responsibility, but that what such responsibility constitutes varies according to gender and social class. In particular, it draws out key theoretical implications for understanding the nature of morality, fairness and justice, and questions ideas about individualisation and the democratisation of family life.
This book will be essential reading for those concerned with the study of contemporary family lives, including sociologists, social policy analysts, family therapists, professionals and practitioners. It is also relevant to those interested in contemporary morality and everyday experiences.