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Family Troubles?

Child on Swing
Family Troubles? questions how we understand ‘normal’ family troubles, troubled and troubling families, and the implications of how ‘childhood’ is understood and often idealised.
July 2010 - July 2016

How far are difficult or painful events a general feature of family lives, how do troubled families normalise their lives, and when do ‘changes’ and ‘troubles’ become ‘harm’? And how do ‘family’ discourses and practices re/create such divisions and perspectives? This project aims to create a dialogue between researchers addressing mainstream family change and  diversity in everyday lives, and those focussing on particular problems which prompt specialist interventions, particularly in the lives of children, and to consider the implications for policy makers, service users and practitioners.

These questions were at the centre of an international two-day Colloquium in July 2010, organised by Dr Jane McCarthy (CCIG), Dr Carol-Ann Hooper (University of York) and Professor Val Gillies (London Goldsmiths). Hosted in London with funding and support from CCIG and London South Bank University, contributors included Professor Jill Korbin (Case Western Reserve University, USA), Professor Sir Michael Rutter (King’s College, London), and other eminent speakers and discussants, as well as a panel of young people and self-help support group members. Full details, including podcasts of the keynote speakers, can be found at Family Troubles? The Ongoing Project


An edited book collection from the Symposium was published in 2013 by Policy Press Family Troubles? Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People and The Family troubles? Book Presentation (video), with Dr Jane McCarthy, Professor Brid Featherstone and Dr Umut Erel from CCIG.

A further one day Symposium was held in June 2013, also sponsored by CCIG and London South Bank University, under the title, Children’s Family Troubles, with contributions from Professor Jo Boyden (University of Oxford), and Professor Emeritus David Morgan (University of Manchester), followed by a book launch. See Symposium Event page, (with links to the event's videos).

Further events have taken these themes forward in other venues, including:


  • A one day inter-disciplinary symposium, with a keynote by Professor Sam Punch (University of Stirling) in September 2015, led by Dr Ruth Evans (University of Reading), on Family Troubles: Care and Change in Diverse Contexts, with funding from the University of Reading, CCIG, and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).



Image "Torn and Trouble" by Ralph Hogaboom, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Learn more about the research programme: Intimate Relationships