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Skeletons in the Closet

A Sociological Analysis of Family Conflicts

Edited by Aysan Sev’er & Jan E. Trost
Subjects Social Science, Sociology
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Paperback : 9781554582655, 222 pages, January 2011
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587834, 222 pages, September 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554583188, 222 pages, January 2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Skeletons in the Closet: A Sociological Analysis of Famly Conflicts, edited by Aysan Sev’er and Jan E. Trost
Introduction: Opening Closets, Rattling Family Skeletons: What Will They Say? | Aysan Sev’er (University of Toronto Scarborough) and Jan Trost (Uppsala University, Sweden)
1. A Sudden Death and the Long-term Fragmentation of a Family | Aysan Sev’er (University of Toronto Scarborough)
2. Grandmother and Grandson | Jan Trost (Uppsala University, Sweden)
3. Rupture and Repair: The Cascading Effects of Mental Illness on a Family of Innocents | Sheldon Ungar (University of Toronto Scarborough)
4. ‘Not My Happy Ending’: A Family Struggle to Define Roles in a Challenging Time | Thembela Kepe (University of Toronto Scarborough)
5. My Sisters Are the Problem: Sibling Struggles over Power and Identity in Relation to Caring for an Aging Parent | Bonnie Lashewicz (University of Calgary)
6. Sitting at the Steps of Hope, Love, and Hospitality | Hugo Kamya (Simmons College, Boston)
7. A Gay Actor with Multiple Scripts: Impression Management Strategies to Comply with Traditional Chinese Family Norms | Kin Ho Wong (Ryerson University)
8. Noises and Unwanted Odours in Old Closets? | Si Transken (University of Northern British Columbia)
9. A Brother No Longer: A Real Story of Family Dysfunction and Abuse | Anonymous
10. Female Excommunicated: A Life-Course and Family in Conflict with Norms and Tradition | Clary Krekula (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Conclusion: Strategies That Work and That Fail to Work | Aysan Sev’er (University of Toronto Scarborough) and Jan Trost (Uppsala University, Sweden)
About the Editors


Family conflict has traditionally been studied by researchers who are at a safe intellectual distance from the families under their study. In Skeletons in the Closet, and in line with feminist research methodologies, the hierarchical distance between researcher and subject is broken down. All of the contributors to this volume are academics, and all are closely related to the families they write about.
Skeletons in the Closet consists of ten essays about unresolved or unresolvable family conflicts. The contributors start from the assumption that families—whether legal-marriage families, common-law marriage families, single-parent families, multiple-generation families, same-sex partnerships, or adoptive families—are cradles of intense emotion. That intensity, they argue, may translate into conflict, competition, domination, abuse, exploitation, or even hate. This book explores those areas most likely to grip family members in unresolved interpersonal strife, as well as the strategies people use to solve the issues and the shame and isolation that conflict brings in societies that normatively expect family life to be one of joy, mutual sharing, and caring.
This first-hand narration of family conflict by social scholars has much to contribute to sociological studies of the family, both methodologically and theoretically. The introduction and conclusion place family conflict within sociological and social psychological theories and methods.