Troubling 'families'? Global Futures for Family Discourses and Practices.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:45-12:15
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
RC06 Family Research (host committee)

Language: English

The difficulties of defining and analysing “family” are well-rehearsed but the term persists in powerful and pervasive ways, including through international law, social policies, professional practices and everyday lives. As well as a key concept for sociological analysis, it attracts strong moral and evaluative overtones, e.g. as “functional” or “dysfunctional”, “normative” or “troubled”. Such terms obscure their underpinnings in culturally shaped value judgements, varying in systematic ways between and within national and local cultures.

This session will interrogate two related themes, considering their potential for sociological contributions to global futures: troubling the concept and discourses of “family” on the one hand, and on the other, interrogating how some families may be seen to be “troubling”. Related questions include:

  • How far, in what ways, and with what consequences, is the language of “family” centralised in policy, professional practices, and everyday lives, both internationally and in diverse local contexts? 
  • How far is the prevalence of family discourse itself a source of trouble to people in their everyday lives? 
  • Are troubles a normal part of family lives and experiences? Do idealised family discourses obscure such troubles, and in the process, render them more troublesome? 
  • Can sociology enhance evaluative understandings of what may be normal family troubles, and what may constitute troubles that entail harm, and may require interventions?

We welcome papers addressing such questions, both theoretical discussions and empirical work, on particular constitutions of troubling, and troubled, families.

Session Organizer:
Jane MCCARTHY, The Open University, United Kingdom
Troubling Convention and Reflexivity: The Continuing Significance of Family
Brian HEAPHY, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Using Qualitative Secondary Analysis to Maintain a Critically Reflexive Approach to Research with ‘Troubled' Families
Sarah WILSON, School of Social Sciences, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
How Transnational Families Are Seen to be “Troubling”?
Irena JUOZELIUNIENE, Vilnius University, Lithuania; Irma BUDGINAITE, Vilnius University, Lithuania
Physical Punishment in Light of Criminological, Socio-Cultural Diversity and Human Rights Approaches: Ghana and Finland
Sirkka KOMULAINEN, Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, Finland; Suleman IBRAHIM, Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
Troubling Relationships: Towards a New Language of Personal Life
Julia CARTER, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom; Simon DUNCAN, University of Bradford, United Kingdom
(Troubling) Families in the Age of Surrogacy
L. M. Anabel STOECKLE, Wayne State University, USA
The Overburdened Mother – How Social Work Conceives of Troubled Families
Doris BUEHLER-NIEDERBERGER, University of Wuppertal, Germany; Lars ALBERTH, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
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