Distant lives, still voices; sistering in family sociology

Mauthner, Melanie (2005). Distant lives, still voices; sistering in family sociology. Sociology, 39 pp. 623–642.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038505056022

URL: http://soc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/39/4/6...

Abstract

Sisters and sistering are peculiarly absent from the sociology of the family. Sociologists document women’s roles as mothers, carers, workers, daughters and wives yet neglect their experiences as sisters. Our knowledge of this widespread tie derives more from media images than from women’s own experiences. This article explores several reasons for this marginalization: from the sensational depiction of sisters in popular culture as either friends or rivals, and their mythical status in feminist politics, to the specialized interest of psy professionals and policy makers in childhood rivalry and sibling solidarity among the elderly. It reveals the paradox surrounding the silence of sistering as part of family lives and the visibility of sisterhood in the public and sociological imagination. Drawing on a qualitative study of sister relationships among girls and women aged 6–50, it illustrates the complexities of sistering as personal lived experience.

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