Simmel, sex and secrecy / by Katy Barbier-Greenland

I’ll be submitting an abstract to present at the European Sociological Association’s 2019 conference to be held in Manchester, UK, in late August. The theme of the conference is ‘EUROPE AND BEYOND: BOUNDARIES, BARRIERS AND BELONGING’.

There are a large number of different research areas people will be speaking on, and the Research Network 13 called Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives is doing a really interesting joint session with the Network that focuses on the Sociology of Children and Childhood called ““In the child’s best interests?”: Global perspectives on parenting culture, family policy and child well-being’. I thought I could present on perspectives from around the world about the ways in which some parents and others keep secrets from children, often considering this to be in the child’s best interests.

BUT…..I think though that I would really like to present on Simmel, who is one of my key scholars. There’s a session called ‘Simmel and Beyond’ as it’s the 100 year anniversary of his death for which papers can be submitted by those “challenged by Simmel’s thinking and who use his concepts and methodology to present here the results of their investigations”. He’s the ‘original gangster’ as far as the sociology of secrets is concerned, and has a lot of really interesting things to say around secrecy and privacy in families and society, in terms of how these things function and what the impacts can be. He talks about knowledge and boundaries (in terms of who knows and who doesn’t know), power, truth and lies…pretty fascinating stuff and all absolutely relevant to draw from to help me understand the experience and impacts of contemporary family secrets.