Doing / Undoing Family, Education and Age – Plenum Session – Thursday, September 23rd – 11:00

UnDoing the ‘Good’ Family. Discourses and practices of parenthood and marriage within family court proceedings – Parisot/Zuccato-Doutlik/Zartler (Vienna/AUT)

Linking Ages – An approach towards un/doing age while un/doing family in the Covid-19 pandemic – Höppner/Endter/Wanka (Frankfurt/Main, Cologne, Berlin/GER)

Families Doing Education – Krinninger (Osnabrueck/GER)


UnDoing the ‘Good’ Family. Discourses and practices of parenthood and marriage within family court proceedings – Parisot, Viktoria / Zuccato-Doutlik, Marlies / Zartler, Ulrike (Vienna/AUT)

Monitoring, supporting or sanctioning of family members’ rights and duties by social work institutions like youth welfare institutions or family court assistance is always based on implicit and explicit concepts of families and their duties, which are (co-)determined by family law. These concepts of a ‘good’ or ‘normal’ family and ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practices become especially visible in situations where family relations are intensively negotiated. Family transitions like separation and divorce require rearranging duties and expectations of family members. From a praxeological perspective, these reorganizations of family relationships appear as practices and discourses of UnDoing Family. In case of individual insolubility, family members are called to perform, display, negotiate and proof the adjustment of their family relationships within court proceedings in front of authorities like judges or social care representatives. In our contribution, we focus on UnDoing Family in divorce and custody proceedings. Law and family appear as intertwined practices, that are carried out within a divorce or custody hearing by multiple actors. From this point of view we ask: How is parenthood and marriage negotiated before court? Which practices and discourses are part of doing or undoing a parent-child relationship or a relationship between partners in the course of a legal divorce proceeding? Comprehending family and law as interwoven practices, we applied an innovative methodological approach by analyzing seventeen court records of divorce proceedings and seven court records of custody proceedings in Austria from the period 2013–2018 from a qualitative perspective. We use discourse and situational analysis to connect the relevant discourses and practices in the records and analyze how family relationships are done and undone in court. In our presentation we share three main results: (1) The ways of UnDoing Family in court proceedings are inherently gendered and strongly related to traditional concepts of family. Fulfilling traditional gender stereotypes seems to be an effective way for husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, to do and undo family in an ‘appropriate’ and ‘legal’ way in front of authorities. While men’s roles are mostly shaped by the idea of the male breadwinner, women’s roles are primarily negotiated in relation to duties of care and domestic work. (2) Discourses and practices in family law proceedings both (re-)construct and (co-)constitute traditional concepts of family. The analysis of Austrian court records shows that this dynamic especially applies when it comes to major conflicts in families: traditional concepts of the gendered division of responsibilities are adopted when one parent’s ability to receive or retain sole custody is at stake. (3) Family law and connected relevant actors like youth welfare offices, as actors of social work, play a crucial role in UnDoing Family during a family transition. Results emphasize how family law proceedings construct notions about what it means to be a ‘good’ family. We suggest that actors in the field of social work should take these normative ideas of family critically into account when working with families.

Linking Ages – An approach towards un/doing age while un/doing Family in the Covid-19 pandemic – Höppner, Grit / Endter, Cordula / Wanka, Anna (Frankfurt/Main, Cologne,

The spread of the coronavirus, and the attempts of governments to slow it down, is severely affecting livelihoods worldwide. The institutionalised ageism underlying these government measures affect the youngest and oldest in society in particular (Ayalon et al. 2020; van Dyk et al. 2020). Intergenerational relations of social reproduction, enacted, inter alia, through practices of eldercare, grand-parenting, or social work in families, are significantly limited in the current pandemic, as older adults are framed as an ‘at-risk group’, children as ‘silent transmitters’, and young adults as ‘risky group’ (Ayalon et al. 2020; Stokes and Patterson 2020). These attributions contribute to the constitution, stabilisation and ‘doing’ of age in the pandemic. In this paper we ask how and through which social practices age is being (un-)done in the course of the pandemic in Germany, and how these doings shape, shift or even break intergenerational relations. To do so we present findings from 30 qualitative problem-centred interviews conducted between March and August 2020 with persons of different ages living in a varied range of household and care constellations in Germany. By focusing on intergenerational contact restrictions and the ways in which they are discussed, performed, and mediated through new technologies, we show how age-based differences are stabilised or intensified, questioned or made irrelevant. Based on this we reconstruct the practices of un/doing age and un/doing family in the pandemic. In conclusion, we link our findings to recent approaches of un/doing age (Schroeter, 2012) and un/doing family (Jurczyk, 2020) and outline the potential of a ‘linking ages’ approach for the study of family lives and of intergenerational relations in times of crises.

Families Doing Education – Krinninger, Dominik (Osnabrueck/GER)

For some time now, approaches have been established which conceptualize family as a form of shared living which takes shape through shared practices. These include Morgan’s (2011) concept of family practices, as well as the work of Carol Smart (2007), who examines how different forms and dimensions of bonding constitute family. In the German-speaking context, the doing family approach (Jurczyk et al. 2020) has attracted some attention. These perspectives have in common that they emphasize the active participation of family members in the constitution of their family. In other respects, the attributions to families by social institutions, not least the educational system, are highlighted. For example, Karsten/Otto (1987) already contains a series of analyses of the sociopedagogical policing of the family. More recent works by Betz et al. (2019) examine how families are addressed in schools and institutions under the cipher of partnership. In these perspectives, not only the social pre-structuring of families is emphasized, but also the entanglement of family and institutional logics. The proposed contribution brings together the perspectives of doing family with those of making family by addressing how families adapt to institutional demands in their inner milieu. This will be done by drawing on completed and ongoing research projects on how families deal with the transition to elementary school and on mathematics related learning between family and kindergarten. In these research projects, the relationship between family and institutions appears to be positive for families if they can support it with their own means and in their own practical logic. The familial translation work that has to be done for this, and with which convergences of familial and institutional logics manifest themselves in specific boundary objects (Star 2017), does not only point to the freedoms (and the risks of failure) that exist for families in this process. It is also part of the constitution of a family education, which not only involves specific pedagogical interactions, but also consists in the constitution of a relatively stable web of significances by the family, which enables a practical-reflexive processing of pedagogical requirements. In this process, practical, conceptual and biographical dimensions intertwine. In the empirical and theoretical description of this, the proposed contribution aims to show that families constitute themselves as spheres of their own education in the course of working on their relationship to educational institutions.