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Family troubles?Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people$
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Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Carol-Ann Hooper, and Val Gillies

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447304432

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447304432.001.0001

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Troubling normalities and normal family troubles: diversities, experiences and tensions

Troubling normalities and normal family troubles: diversities, experiences and tensions

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Troubling normalities and normal family troubles: diversities, experiences and tensions
Source:
Family troubles?
Author(s):

Jane Ribbens McCarthy

Carol-Ann Hooper

Val Gillies

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447304432.003.0001

This opening chapter contextualises the debates the book addresses, which explore the contested terrain between ‘normal’ family troubles and troubled and troubling families. It elaborates the editors’ assumption that change and trouble are pervasive features of children’s family lives, with the experience of them and ability to deal with them influenced by both cultural and material resources. It discusses key contested concepts of children and families, change, challenge and troubles, identifying pertinent conceptual resources for these debates including e.g. concepts of vicissitudes, expectations, suffering and trauma. It identifies two conflicting directions of argument found in feminist and other research on families and its overlapping fields: first, ‘troubling the normal’, involving the naming of harms and injustices in previously taken-for-granted practices (such as domestic violence), and second, ‘normalising troubles’, involving questioning the pathologising per se of family change and diversity (including divorce and lone parenthood), identifying the value and risks in each approach and the tensions which arise from different positions. Finally it considers the politics of how definitions of normality and trouble emerge, are contested and become institutionalised.

Keywords:   Families, Childhood, Change, Challenge, Troubles, Politics of definition

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