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Title: Constituting family : children's normative expectations and lived experiences of close relationships
Author: Davies, Hayley
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 0847
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is about the meanings that children aged 8-10 years old attribute to family and close relationships. The thesis focuses on how children’s normative expectations about family relate to their lived experiences of family life and relationships. It is based on data from a school-based field study, combining participant observation, interviews, children’s drawings, visits to children’s family homes, and the children’s production of books about their families. The research took place over nineteen months. Its contribution to knowledge lies in a new theoretical framework, combining insights from family and childhood sociology, for the purpose of examining children’s constitution of family. The thesis demonstrates that children conceive of family as a meaningful and highly valued set of relationships, challenging the notion that the concept of ‘family’ has lost its sociological and analytical significance. This thesis illustrates that children consider the family as those people with whom they feel a sense of belonging; a feeling that was achieved across a range of family forms. This conceptualisation of belonging departs from traditional conceptualisations in encompassing face-to-face contact as an important element of belonging to a family. The thesis concludes that an emphasis on children feeling part of a family is more productive than the present policy focus on maintaining nuclear family forms. Particular attention is given to how children identify visible forms of relatedness, through surname, cohabitation and through family members ‘displaying’ family-like relationships and family photographs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economics and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman