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Keywords:

  • Family;
  • family policy;
  • family sociology;
  • intimacy;
  • kinship;
  • personal life

Abstract

The central concern of this paper is that there has been a move within British sociology to subsume (or sometimes, even replace) the concept of ‘family’ within ideas about personal life, intimacy and kinship. It calls attention to what will be lost sight of by this conceptual move: an understanding of the collective whole beyond the aggregation of individuals; the creation of lacunae that will be (partially) filled by other disciplines; and engagement with policy developments and professional practices that focus on ‘family’ as a core, institutionalized, idea. While repudiating the necessity (and indeed, pointing out the dangers) of providing any definitive answer to definitions of ‘family’, the paper calls for critical reflection on the implications of these conceptual moves.