Sibling Identity and Relationships: Sisters and Brothers

Sibling Identity and Relationships: Sisters and Brothers

Sibling Identity and Relationships: Sisters and Brothers

Sibling Identity and Relationships: Sisters and Brothers


Sibling Identity and Relationshipsexplores the special place that siblings occupy in the lives of children and young people, providing new insights into sibling identity and relationships. Drawing on social constructionist and psychodynamic perspectives, it discusses who constitutes a sibling, emotional connections and separations, conflict and aggression and how siblings construct and conduct their relationship out of the home, at school and in local communities.

Shedding light on broader debates about social and psychic divisions in wider society, this book explores the ways that siblings are important for children and young people's social and emotional sense of self in relation to others. Reviewing current literature on sibling relationships as well as proposing alternative theoretical perspectives, Sibling Identity and Relationships will be a valuable resource to academics and students of childhood studies and social work as well as health and social care professionals.


In Crow Lake, Mary Lawson’s fictional account of a group of four siblings growing up in a remote community by a Canadian lake, the protagonist reflects on the emotional legacy of her once inseparable and now distant bond with her older brother:

It should have been impossible to leave Matt behind. This crisis I was
going through, not to mention the ache which I seemed to have carried
around with me for most of my life – of course they were to do with
him. How could it be otherwise? Everything I now was, I owed to him.
All the years of watching him, learning from him, coming to share his
passion – how could I not be affected by the way things had turned out?
(2002: 243)

The book evokes a subtle portrait of the intense emotions aroused by sibling relationships including the ambivalence at their heart.

What is a sister or a brother – are such relationships born or made? What are the possibilities and practices of love and care alongside hate, rivalry and indifference between sisters and brothers? in this book we explore these sorts of questions in relation to children’s and young people’s sibling relationships. We review a range of literature and perspectives in the field, and present evidence from new research about their own understandings of their everyday interactions with their sisters and brothers.

We write about sibling relationships with a broad rather than fixed definition of such ties. Nor does biology or law alone define who counts as a sibling. Furthermore, we do not assume that ‘good’ relationships are charged with positive emotions, nor that there is a set of easily identifiable practices and principles, which, if adhered to, will result in ‘healthy’ sibling relationships. Listening to children and young people talk about life with their sisters and brothers suggests that these relationships, whether biological or social, are more significant for some than others. Some will feel . . .

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