Family displays and personal lives

  • James A
  • Curtis P
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In this article we explore how Finch’s (2007) concept of display might illuminate the new sociology of personal life as set out by Smart (2007). Drawing on narratives of family life and eating practices, from both parents and children, the article considers how these work as tools of family display. For some families, displays are used to affirm an idiosyncratic sense of their family through drawing on particular cultural motifs of ‘family’. For other families, practices of display work to smooth over challenges from within. Displays can also be more normative, confirming wider hegemonic models of what the family is. Thus, while displays — and therefore ideas of family — do take different forms, nonetheless they also demonstrate that, as Smart suggests, people’s personal lives need always to be understood as embedded in particular social and cultural worlds, rather than a function of lone, autonomous individuals.

Author-supplied keywords

  • children
  • display
  • family
  • food
  • narratives
  • personal

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  • Allison James

  • Penny Curtis

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