International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies vol:4 issue:2 pages:722-740
Despite the obvious importance of “family” in people’s everyday lives, there is little consensus on what family is. Nevertheless, every answer to the question has important (social, political, legal) consequences. In our research we do not set out from a substantial description of what “family” is. We shift from top-down perspectives on what the family is (or should be) according to some description of it, to concrete socio-material practices that actually “make” a family. In taking this socio-material stance, we: (a) acknowledge human agency and at the same time place family members not above material objects but among them; (b) use the idea of “script”-ing to visualize the life of particular objects in a particular family; and (c) come to understand “family” as a gathering of some sort, that is, as an event in which people are (actively) gathering and simultaneously being gathered around some-thing. Drawing on a broad ethnographic exploration we conducted, we will show here how a family is “made” when its inhabitants are gathering and being gathered around the life of an object (in our case here, a newspaper) and hence “become” a family.