September 2007, Polity
Breaking with conventional wisdom, her book offers a fresh
conceptual approach to understanding personal life, which realigns
empirical research with theoretical analysis. She gives emphasis to
ideas of connectedness, relationality and embeddedness, rejecting
many of the assumptions found in theories of individualisation and
de-traditionalisation by authors such as Beck and Beck-Gernsheim,
Bauman and Giddens.
Instead, her approach prioritises the bonds between people, the importance of memory and cultural heritage, the significance of emotions (both positive and negative), how family secrets work and change over time, and the underestimated importance of things such as shared possessions or homes in the maintenance and memory of relationships.
This ground-breaking text will be essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of families and personal relationships, and who wants to understand this most intimate area of social life.
1. A sociology of personal life.
2. The cultural turn in the sociology of family life and living.
3. Emotions, love and the problem of commitment.
4. Connections and cultures of tradition.
5. Secrets and lies.
6. Families we live with.
7. Possessions, things and relationality.
- Original approach to understanding families by one of the
UK’s leading sociologist in this field
- Beautifully written account weaving together theory and
- Draws on themes as wide as memory and cultural heritage,
emotions, and family secrets
- Essential readers for scholars and advanced students of the sociology of the family
Brenda Almond, Times Higher Education
"This bracing book reconfigures an entire field of study.
Escaping the conceptual snares imposed by the usual category of
'The Family', Smart shows how we weave personal lives from skeins
of imagination, memories, secrets and stories on looms provided by
our histories and cultures. Personal Life is a creative,
invigorating book that should appeal broadly to readers across
disciplinary and national borders."
Judith Stacey, New York University
"In this beautifully crafted book, Carol Smart puts sociology
back in touch with the ways in which we live and experience our
everyday personal lives through a lifetime of family experiences,
memories and emotions. In doing so she breathes fresh life into
theoretical debates about 'the family' by making us consider the
multiplicity of interconnected ways in which individuals experience
themselves as family members."
Allison James, University of Sheffield
"For all reflecting on personal life, scholars and general
readers, this is a thought-provoking and fascinating book that will
take you further."
Lynn Jamieson, University of Edinburgh