I spoke with The Times about the impacts of DNA discoveries on people’s lives, and the resulting article was by Mark Bridge was published on Saturday 7th September. A subscription is required, although the good news is that you can sign up for a free month.
Tony Trueman from the European Sociological Association published a longer article about my research on August 23rd, sharing a few family secret discovery stories and looking at the consequences for people’s lives. Tony’s article is published at Medical Xpress and you can check it out here.
Journalist Katie Grant at iNews published a great article on August 22nd about my research. You can check it out here. She also included a couple of other stories of family secret discoveries - very complex, difficult and interesting experiences.
Yvonne Bolouris of The Scottish Sun shared the details of her own surprising non-parent-expected (NPE) experience, with discovering her biological father was not the man she thought it was her whole life. Like so many who purchase a home DNA test, Yvonne was just curious about the ethnicity of her and her daughters, and she has generously shared her story. Her piece was published 15th September.
I presented my talk today at the European Sociological Association’s 14th conference (known as ESA 2019) today at the University of Manchester, UK. All went well, and I was the only one who presented on the secrecy work of Simmel, with the three other presenters in the ‘Simmel and Beyond’ session sharing their work on conflict, mass movements and publics. Full conference wrap up to come!
In the meantime, check out all the highlights on Twitter with the hashtag #ESA2019 - pretty sure we were trending at one point, with 3,024 sociologists taking over the city!
Well, on a more personal note, I’ve been working towards this presentation for months, and now that it’s done, it’s time to celebrate! And organise a mini summer getaway while the weather is still (sort of) nice here in Europe.
There will be over 800 presentations at ESA 2019 in Manchester, with a whole range of them coordinated through the various research networks (there are 37 of those - I’m part of the research network 13 which focuses on the sociology of families and relationships).
Each research stream has been put together specifically for this conference and there are only four papers to be given at each one - I’ve listed them below in case you’re interested - sociology today covers so many areas of life, it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it. I’m presenting alongside my supervisor A/Prof Deb Dempsey in RS12 - Simmel and beyond.
RS01 - Gaming at the Boundaries: Imagining Inclusive Futures
RS02 - Gestational Surrogacy. A Global Phenomenon in Europe
RS03 - Maritime Sociology
RS04 - Men and Masculinities in a Changing Europe
RS05 - Multi-locality and Family Life
RS06 - Patterns of Non-Resident Fatherhood
RS07 - Platform Work: Needs, Activation and Representativeness in the Era of Digital Labour
RS08 - Politics of Engagement
RS09 - Practicing Borders
RS10 - Practicing the Future: Social, Material and Affective Futures
RS11 - Questioning Precariousness: Labour, Collective Organising and Everyday Life
RS12 - Simmel and Beyond
RS13 - Sociology of Celebration
RS14 - Sociology of Knowledge
RS15 - Sociology of Law
RS16 - Sociology of Spatial Mobilities
RS17 - Transformative Rural-Urban Connections
RS18 - Urban Futures: Visions for Social Inclusion
RS19 - Visual and Filmic Sociology
RS20 - Education and Political Participation in Eastern Europe
I’m so excited to be presenting at the upcoming European Sociological Association conference! The conference is going to be the gathering for sociologists of all types and disciplines and is called ‘Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging’. It will be held in Manchester, UK from 20 – 23 August 2019.
My paper is part of the 'Simmel and beyond' session for researchers whose work grapples with Simmel’s theories on the 100th anniversary of his death. The paper will be delivered in conjunction with one of my supervisors, A/Prof Deb Dempsey. Here’s the abstract:
Family Secrecy in the Information Age: A Re-Examination of Simmel’s ‘The Sociology of Secrecy and Secret Societies’
Discovering an unexpected major family secret typically has significant, ongoing personal and psychological consequences for those involved. Reproductive family secrets, such as those associated with conception and birth, are arguably more difficult to keep in an information age. People are now able to access their family history and biogenetic information in unprecedented ways due to factors including more open policy and legislative trends regarding donors and donation in reproduction, and enhanced opportunities to identify and connect with family members online. Further, sales of DNA home testing kits are expected to reach 100 million by 2021, and family history searches are the second most popular use of the Internet
This talk is based on stories from an empirical research project entitled 'Family Secrets, Secret Families'. Secrets discovered by participants included adoption, donor conception, hidden or secret children, and mis-assigned parentage. In the talk, we reflect on Simmel’s essay 'The sociology of secrecy and of secret societies' and assess its contemporary relevance for how knowledge, power, truth, silence, disclosure, and trust play out in families with reproductive secrets. We argue that Simmels’ insights continue to offer a valuable framework for understanding the power and function of knowledge and information management in family life in the era of the Internet and home DNA testing.
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.
The European Sociological Association research network that I'm a part of, Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives, has just published a callout for my project in their Spring newsletter! It's only emailed out to members, not published anywhere online, so I haven't been able to link it.
This research network is all about family sociology and supports research in this area on a wide range of topics including family forms, marriage and cohabitation, multicultural and transnational families, same-sex couples and rainbow families, family planning and fertility, infertility and reproductive technologies, parenting, mothering and fathering practices, intergenerational relationships and kinship networks, cultural understandings of family, theories and methodologies of research on families and many more.
As previously blogged, I'm going to be attending their 2018 conference, 'Families Known and Unknown', at the University of Kuopio in Finland in June, and will share updates on the presentations.
June will be a busy month! I'm also travelling to Kuopio, Finland to attend the 'Families Known and Unknown' conference at the University of Eastern Finland.
This conference was developed out of the European Sociological Association's research network 'Sociology of Family and Intimate Lives', which I'm a part of. Conference details available here.