Troubling displays: the affect of gender, sexuality and class

Gabb, Jacqui (2011). Troubling displays: the affect of gender, sexuality and class. In: Dermott, Esther and Seymour, Julie eds. Displaying Families: a New Concept for the Sociology of Family Life. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 38–60.



In this chapter I engage with Janet Finch's concept of display as an academic lens through which to understand family relationships, focusing on the utility of the concept but also asking questions about what (or who) gets omitted through this analytical paradigm. Finch (2007) suggests that it is not sufficient for families to be done they must also be seen to be done in order that these sets of practices are afforded cultural meaning. I concur that the concept of display may be a useful addition to the sociological toolkit but not primarily because it elucidates how family relationships are presented and rendered meaningful – although it certainly does add clarity to understandings of these processes. Instead I think that it is most useful precisely because it brings into sharp relief the determining factors that shape displays and in doing so the people and forms of relating that are omitted when emotions and interactions are not readily recognisable. In this sense its analytical use is as a sensitizing concept, highlighting the need for us to be more attuned to those practices and identities that are in different ways troublesome to display.

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