The politics of concepts: family and its (putative) replacements

Edwards, Rosalind, Ribbens McCarthy, Jane and Gillies, Val (2012) The politics of concepts: family and its (putative) replacements. British Journal of Sociology, 63, (4), 730-746. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2012.01434.x).


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The central concern of this paper is that there has been a move within British sociology to subsume (or sometimes, even replace) the concept of ‘family’ within ideas about personal life, intimacy and kinship. It calls attention to what will be lost sight of by this conceptual move: an understanding of the collective whole beyond the aggregation of individuals; the creation of lacunae that will be (partially) filled by other disciplines; and engagement with policy developments and professional practices that focus on ‘family’ as a core, institutionalised, idea. While repudiating the necessity (and indeed, pointing out the dangers) of providing any definitive answer to definitions of ‘family’, the paper calls for critical reflection on the implications of these conceptual moves.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2012.01434.x
ISSNs: 0007-1315 (print)
1468-4446 (electronic)
Keywords: family, family policy, family sociology, intimacy, kinship, personal life
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions : Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Social Sciences > Sociology & Social Policy
ePrint ID: 336914
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
December 2012Published
14 December 2012Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2012 13:10
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:25

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