Family sociology as a theoretical enterprise? A personal reflection

Ribbens McCarthy, Jane (2022). Family sociology as a theoretical enterprise? A personal reflection. Families, Relationships and Societies, 11(2) pp. 303–319.



David Morgan’s contributions to family sociology started from a direct engagement with theoretical perspectives, but his 1996 publication, Family Connections, took his family sociology in a new, somewhat ‘fuzzy’ direction. Two key motifs for his later work are the emphasis on ‘family’ as an adjective, and its fruitfulness when conjoined with the doing of ‘practices’. Yet his 1996 text also identified key theoretical themes he considered important for family sociology to retain. I trace some of the theoretical concerns that he carried forward in his later work, while drawing attention to some aspects that invite further development, including the significance of everyday family meanings, the challenge of considering ‘family practices’ beyond affluent Minority worlds, and the need to critique the ‘individual’ along with the ‘family’. I offer this discussion on the basis that family sociology is a central issue for sociology in general as a theoretical enterprise.

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