Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Key Concepts in Family Studies

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Key Concepts in Family Studies

Article excerpt

Jane Ribbens McCarthy and Rosalind Edwards. Key Concepts in Family Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2011). 247 pages, ISBN: 9781412920063.

The broad field of family studies comprises a variety of disciplines, theoretical traditions and methodological approaches, as well as different political orientations and ideological tendencies. It is thus an ambitious and courageous endeavour to set out to summarize 'key concepts in family studies' in one paperback book and 46 entries. Jane Ribbens McCarthy from the Open University and Rosalind Edwards from the University of Southampton gave it a try-and were impressively successful.

Their book is a rich and reflected overview on selected topics and ideas in interdisciplinary family studies. In its 46 entries, 3-5 pages each, the authors manage to introduce, explain, compare and critically evaluate important approaches. Each entry contains a short and useful definition of the concept, a differentiated discussion, a brief summary, and helpful references for further reading. While the book can be used as small encyclopedia, it is worthwhile reading it through from the first to the last page. In this sense, it is much more than a reference work: an inspiring, well-founded and inherently critical analysis.

As a result, the book is a recommendable reading and resource for several audiences: for students or newcomers who want to get familiar with key thoughts and concepts of family studies, for family researchers who wish to look up some aspects, remind themselves of main arguments or broaden their knowledge, and for scholars outside the Anglo-American community who would like to learn more about main discourses in the US and UK, which the book focuses on.

A major prerequisite for the books' quality is that the authors clearly position themselves in the diverse and ideologically burdened field of family studies in their very good introduction. They are explicitly embedded in a feminist, social constructionist sociological tradition, and this context consistently characterizes their book. …

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