Troubling relationships: towards a new language of personal life
Carter, J. 2016. Troubling relationships: towards a new language of personal life.
Despite recent moves in family sociology towards alternative and more inclusive notions of family and family relationships (intimacy, personal life, relationality and so on), there remains a pervasive appeal to the notion of ‘family’ in public, political and policy discourse. What Gilding (2010) has noted is that the writing out of ‘family’ has also resulted in a writing out of convention as a central part of relationships and family life. What we hope to demonstrate in this paper is both that family is still an important notion for individuals in varying circumstances, and that notions of convention and tradition are pivotal in the constructions of family life. We demonstrate the pervasiveness of ‘family’, ‘families’ and ‘tradition’ through two examples: LAT (living apart together) and marriage. While LAT relationships have been heralded by some as a mark of individualisation and freedom from convention, what we found instead is that LAT is often used as a precursor to more traditional cohabitation or marriage or that LAT is used as a defensive relationship state after bad previous experiences. Neither state suggests individualised lives free from constraints and convention. Similar findings were revealed when talking to young women about marriage who were, on the whole, extremely keen to marry and conform to traditional gendered marital roles. What we provide is a new discourse of the nature of family and personal relationships: these are constructed and reconstructed and invented and re-invented through choice, agency, convention and tradition.
|Conference||British Sociological Association Conference|
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|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||13 Oct 2016|
|Completed||07 Apr 2016|
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