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New book contemplates the complexities of modern family life

Displaying Families, edited by Esther Dermott and Julie Seymour

Displaying Families, edited by Esther Dermott and Julie Seymour Palgrave Macmillan

14 September 2011

A Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol has helped to pen a new book which looks at the complexities of contemporary family life.

Dr Esther Dermott, from the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, has co-edited Displaying Families: A New Concept for the Sociology of Family Life.

With chapters written by leading experts in family and childhood research, the book promises to be a major new contribution to the field of sociology of family and personal life.

Dr Dermott, whose research work focuses on fatherhood in relation to the construction of intimacy and meanings of work, explained the concept of ‘displaying families’: “The specific idea behind the concept is that there is often a need for contemporary families to demonstrate a show of unity or togetherness to other people in order to justify that 'this is my family' or 'this is how my family works'.”

The need to 'display families' may therefore be more acute when family relationships are less clear, in order to make visible 'who belongs'. One example, discussed in the edited collection by Kathy Almack, is how photographs are used in the homes of lesbian parenting families to exclude or include the non-biological mother.

This volume assesses how the concept of 'displaying families' can contribute to a better understanding of contemporary family and personal life. Using this concept, contributors discuss how family life must not only be 'done' but also be 'seen to be done'.

Contributors to this volume address how scholars can 'think with' displaying families both as a concept and an activity of contemporary families by applying the idea to a range of new empirical studies.

The wide-ranging collection will appeal to international scholars interested in families, childhood and intimacy, within sociology, geography, social work and anthropology, and covers issues such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, space, work-life balance and consumption.

Displaying Families (edited with Julie Seymour) is published by Palgrave Macmillan and available via its website.


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