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47. Family practices and David Morgan

Even families of models aren't 'model families'. A family practices approach looks at what families do in everyday life.

Even families of models aren’t ‘model families’. A family practices approach aims to understand family life by researching what families actually do in everyday life.

Professor David Morgan, in honour of whom the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives has been named, was one of the original staff members of the Sociology department at the University of Manchester in 1964. David is now Professor Emeritus in Sociology and continues to be actively involved in the intellectual work of the Morgan Centre.

His writings on masculinity and families are world renowned, encompassing publications going back to the 1970s.  David’s books Social Theory and the Family (1975), Family Connections (1996) and Rethinking Family Practices (2011) have become key texts in the area of family sociology, and he is credited with launching the concept of ‘family practices’ which has significantly influenced British and European sociological work on families.

The starting point for the family practices approach is that, rather than measuring family lives against an ideal of what families should be like (and in the process finding many families wanting), the task of sociologists is to gain a better understanding of how people do family and the meanings that people attach to their family practices, thus shedding light on the variable and changeable nature of family life.

In another recent publication Acquaintances: The Space between Intimates and Strangers (2009), David explores a hitherto under-researched area of everyday life, namely the significance that our fleeting yet at times regular interactions with acquaintances have for example in providing a sense of safety in public spaces or broadening our understanding of people who might differ from us in terms of background, values or habits.



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