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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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What is at stake in family troubles? Existential issues and value frameworks

What is at stake in family troubles? Existential issues and value frameworks

(p.326) (p.327) Chapter Twenty-Six What is at stake in family troubles? Existential issues and value frameworks
Family troubles?

Jane Ribbens McCarthy

Policy Press

This chapter places at its heart the inescapably moral nature of the issues at stake in considering family troubles, in a wide-ranging discussion drawing on sociology, philosophy, political theory and anthropology. Making meaning of family troubles is an existential challenge that faces all who experience them, and those meanings may be shaped by interpersonal, material and cultural contexts (including the available narratives for explaining suffering and the relative value placed on autonomy, community and/or divinity in different societies). The chapter explores the processes involved, highlighting the contests that may arise over meaning between different participants and stakeholders, and then goes on to take up the challenge of debating whether, despite the particularity of meanings in contexts, any universalizing principles can be brought to the task of setting boundaries between the ‘normal’ and the ‘troubling’ in family life. Four perspectives are considered: a critical realist approach from sociology; an international legal approach framed as ‘rights’; an anthropological perspective on non-uniform universality; and a form of feminist philosophy framed as an ethic of care, each of which is argued to offer a useful reference point in necessarily ongoing debates, enabling dialogue about the gains and losses associated with them.

Keywords:   Family troubles, Contested meanings, Existential issues, Critical realism, Rights, Non-uniform universality, Ethic of care

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