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New frontiers of family - seminar series 1-4, overview. Dates: 18 March, 20 April, 11 May, 7 June

Tuesday, 7 June 2016, 08:30 - 16:30

multiple (see programme below)

New frontiers of family: an 'Intimate Relationships' seminar series

New frontiers of family: The psychological implications of emerging family forms’ is a seminar series that will be launched in 2016. This series is funded by the British Psychological Society and will consist of four one-day workshops on emerging family forms. The series is organised by:

  • Dr Naomi Moller, Open University
  • Dr Victoria Clarke, University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Dr Nikki Hayfield, University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Dr Fiona Tasker, Birkbeck, University of London

This seminar series is approved by the British Psychological Society (BPS).


The proposed seminar series will consist of 4 seminars focussed on two intersecting themes:

  • Beyond genetic relatedness (indicative topics: embryo and gamete donation, surrogacy, same-sex adoption, co-parenting)
  • Beyond nuclear family structures (indicative topics: voluntary childlessness, polyamorous families, trans parenting)

Seminar 1: Beyond the nuclear family: Conceiving of a non-nuclear family, 18 March 2016 - The Open University in Cambridge

Further details here:

Seminar 2: Beyond the non-nuclear family: Non-nuclear family planning, 20 April 2016 - Birkbeck, University of London

To register and for further details click here:

Seminar 3: Beyond genetic kinship: Donor conception, 11 May 2016, The Open University in Manchester 

To register and for further details click here:

Seminar 4: Beyond the nuclear family: Experiences of non-nuclear families, 7 June 2016, University of the West of England, Bristol

To register and for further details click here:


Seminar Series Rationale

The image of the family provided by most undergraduate psychology textbooks and programmes remains steadfastly traditional, and yet increasingly out-of-date. Disparate pockets of research within the discipline address the psychological implications of non-traditional families, but psychology as a whole lacks a cohesive narrative around the changing nature of the family (a narrative that is strongly apparent in sister disciplines such as sociology). Psychological contributions to debates about non-traditional families are often limited to assessments of the emotional welfare of children in new family forms, but it is our contention that psychologists have much more to contribute to debates about the changing nature of the family.

As such, the purpose of the seminar series is to explore the psychological and social implications of family forms that have emerged or become increasingly prominent in the last few decades through, for example, legislative changes or the development of new reproductive technologies. This includes a wide variety of family formations: from families in which children are conceived through the use of reproductive technologies such as embryo donation (first recorded in Britain in the early 1990s) to same-sex parented families in which the children were adopted (the provisions of the Adoption & Children Act that made adoption by same-sex couples possible came into force in 2005). These new family formations are not limited to families with children however; voluntary childlessness is increasingly visible in the wider culture, as are family forms with more than two parents, such as polyamorous and lesbian and gay co-parented families. Thus this seminar series will explore the psychological meanings and experiences of familial relationships that extend beyond the traditional prerogatives of genetic kinship and the nuclear family unit. Furthermore, because psychology arguably lags behind other social science disciplines in researching new family formations, distinguished colleagues from related disciplines (such as social work and sociology) will be invited to contribute to the seminar series to provide insight into family forms that have yet to be considered by psychologists, and to assist psychologists working in the area to set future agendas for their research.