Negotiating Families and Personal Lives in the 21st Century : Exploring Diversity, Social Change and Inequalities book cover
1st Edition

Negotiating Families and Personal Lives in the 21st Century
Exploring Diversity, Social Change and Inequalities

ISBN 9780367483401
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
206 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is a vital new resource in the sociological study of family life in the 21st century. The chapters in this volume explore a diverse range of family and intimate life experiences, such as personal choices about reproduction and how life choices and family forms are mediated by factors including geographical location, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, income and government policy.

Through a series of evidence-based chapters, leading sociologists explore a diverse range of family and intimate life experiences and the contexts within which they are lived and experienced. Each chapter delves into the lives and experiences of people whose choices in some way seem to disrupt normative and traditional ideas of family, parenting and childhood. Family patterns and experiences of living apart together, troubled families, children in care, culture, coupledom, same-sex families and digital technology are covered and examined innovatively through theoretical engagement.

Chapters also incorporate innovative technologies and their use within family spaces that shape the nature of human relationships and interactions. These negotiations within the family are globally contextualised within the political and ideological frameworks of societies at any given moment in time. The work recognises the sensitivity of family and personal lives and incorporates the increasing need of the impact of emotionality that forms part of knowledge production. Additionally, innovative methods are showcased in chapters on researching the family through socially just methods, researcher emotionality and visual data.

By bringing together thought-provoking research findings and innovative methodological and theoretical approaches, this collection of essays raises and articulates relevant, timely and future thinking for its readers. This book will therefore be indispensable for students and researchers as well as professionals and policymakers interested in understanding family life in the 21st century.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

Notes on the Contributors

Foreword, Charlotte Fairclough


Part 1

1. Introduction: Negotiating families and personal lives in the 21st Century

Sheila Quaid, Catriona Hugman and Angela Wilcock

2. Identity and kinship in lesbian parental families

Sheila Quaid

3. Misrecognising ‘complex’ families: a social harm perspective

Stephen Crossley

4. Understanding personal lives: after individualisation

Simon Duncan and Julie Carter

5. Disrupting doxa about children in care: Research from England

Catriona Hugman

6. Negotiating intimacy and family at distance: Living apart together (LAT) relationships in China

Shuang Qiu

Part 2

7. Of salsa and ethnographic insights about identity shifts and changed self-concepts in middle aged women’s post-separation/divorce transitions

Sarah Milton and Kaveri Qureshi 

8. Exploring understandings of domestic violence with women in Sunderland: Negotiating and positioning emotionality within sensitive research

Angela Wilcock

9. Displaying family in a digital age: How parents negotiate technology, visibility and privacy

Liam Berriman and Victoria Jaynes

10. Situating visual stories using photo elicitation and biographical narrative methods: Visual representations of family life in South Africa

Elena Moore

11. Socially just, authentic research with families in Jamaica, Australia and the UK 

Charlotte Hardacre, Kaz Stuart, Marnee Shay and Zoya Kinkead-Clark

12. Looking ahead: What does this mean for the sociology of families and personal lives in the future?

Sheila Quaid, Catriona Hugman and Angela Wilcock


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Sheila Quaid is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Gender at the University of Sunderland. She has been awarded a Senior Fellowship and a National Teaching Fellowship by Advance HE in recognition of her expertise in teaching and learning. Her research and teaching include critical pedagogies, gender, sexuality and family studies, discomforting pedagogies and teacher narratives of teaching diversity and difference, situated emotionality in research and professional practice. She is currently completing research on the lives and experiences of women who are not mothers. She has previously published work on domestic violence, lesbian motherhood, feminism, fatherhood and masculinity. Her PhD thesis was entitled Finding a Place: Negotiating Lesbian Parental Identities.

Catriona Hugman is Lecturer in Social Sciences at Liverpool Hope University. Her PhD thesis, entitled ‘What’s the story? Sociological explorations of the life course narratives of care experienced adults’, examined the biographical narratives of adults who spent time growing up in state care. Of particular interest to her are teaching and research activities relating to biographical methods, storytelling and narratives, family, critical theory and processes of marginalization. Catriona is committed to making research relevant outside the academy and has used her research expertise to support grassroots groups and a range of stakeholder professionals such as social workers, nurses, commissioners and police officers. Catriona is working to develop future research that examines forms of direct and in-direct discrimination experienced by children, young people and adults who have lived experience of state care provision in the UK.

Angela Wilcock is an academic tutor and lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sunderland. She is both an academic researcher and a professional with vast experience in front line service provision. She has a passion for work into the inequalities experienced by women and marginalised groups and her research interests include feminist research methodologies, violence against women, domestic violence, coercive and controlling behaviour, help-seeking, gender inequalities within the criminal justice system and offender management. She is also planning future research into women’s perceptions of domestic violence and the experiences of Thai women following migratory marriage. Her PhD thesis was entitled An Exploration of the Knowledge Women in Sunderland have of help-Seeking in Response to Domestic Violence. She has also worked with various initiatives including Rape Crisis Tyneside & Northumberland, children’s services, and the City of Sunderland Digital Inclusion project.


'This book is unique in being the first of its kind to use disruptive ambiguity to fuel critical thinking of the normative understandings of family and life trajectories. It achieves this by challenging the inertia of embedded cultures and policies which still frame reality for non-normative families – a triumph for the creation of an authentic discursive place for societal progress'.

Professor Catherine Hayes, University of Sunderland, UK

'I would like to endorse this volume, which offers readers engagement with innovative work – both in terms of topic and/or methodology – in the field of family sociology. The book has an international appeal and both the editors and contributors are acknowledged experts in this field. The book aims to disrupt normative or expected accounts of family and the life course and – following the recent death of David HJ Morgan – it is encouraging to see that the volume intends to extend and rethink Morgan's work on family practices. I endorse and very much look forward to reading this publication'.

Dr Stephen Hicks, University of Manchester, member of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

'An important and timely collection taking forward scholarship in the field of family sociology. This volume draws on a range of empirical research projects investigating many hitherto under-researched life stages and family formations – methodologically innovative and theoretically ambitious, it will be of interest to researchers as well as practitioners working beyond the academy'.

Dr Charlotte Faircloth, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Social Research Institute