Imagining Families through Stories and Rituals

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Book Chapter

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Family is an idea constituted in and through the images produced by family researchers, by families themselves, and by canonical narratives of family circulating through culture. As family researchers, we are preoccupied with imagining families. In the research we conduct, as well as in our personal lives, we make and shape family experience. All of us tell stories about families; we represent, dramatize, emplot, moralize, idealize, and formularize according to accepted conventions of academic storytelling. The texts, charts, tables, graphs, and statistical inferences that we produce represent the families we study, but they are not the families themselves. Usually, they are hard-boiled images of families, a genre of family narrative produced and governed by ritualized practices of social science research traditions.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Imagining Families through Stories and Rituals, in A. L. Vangelisti (Ed.), Handbook of Family Communication, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, p. 513-538