‘You can do Nasty Things to your Brothers and Sisters without a Reason’: Siblings’ Backstage Behaviour


Samantha Punch, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK, Tel.: 01786 467985; Fax: 01786 467689. E-mail: s.v.punch@stir.ac.uk


This article contributes to the recent, but still limited, literature on the sociology of sibship. It argues that during childhood the ambivalent love/hate nature of sibship is played out through the sharing of knowledge, time and space. It draws on the work of Goffman to illustrate that children's sibling interactions tend to consist of backstage, rather than frontstage, performances. The article is based on children's own perspectives from a sample of 90 children aged 5–17 drawn from 30 families of mixed socioeconomic backgrounds in central Scotland.