Ingrid Arnet Connidis is Professor of Sociology at Western University, London, Canada. Her primary research interest is family studies and aging. She is author of Family Ties & Aging and has published widely in a range of journals and books on various relationships in mid- and later life including living apart together, multi-generational ties, family lives of gay and lesbian adults, sibling relationships and related conceptual, methodological and policy issues. Her work on ambivalence in family ties has been influential worldwide and the concept has been applied in studying various aspects of family relationships over the life course. A theme of her work is the impact of social inequality and the consequent contradictions that are embedded on social institutions on negotiating family ties. In 2013, she received the Alexis Walker Award from Wiley Publishers at the National Council on Family Relations in recognition of her influence on and contribution to the field and for the best research publication in family studies ("Interview and memoir: Complementary narratives on the family ties of gay adults" published in the Journal of Family Theory & Review in 2012).
Keynote: Who Counts as Family? Assessing Realities of Later Life
This talk will address the multiple meanings of "who counts" as we make our way through the later stages of life. How do the actions and preferences of those who are in middle and old age answer the multi-layered question, who counts as family? And how can the multiple answers to this question inform personal and social understandings of who should be recognized as family later in life?
Petra Norqvist is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester, UK. Her research areas include sociology of family life, gender and sexuality, and the way in which family relationships and kinship are shaped in the context of new and developing reproductive medical technologies, such as vitro fertilisation and sperm, egg and embryo donation. In her PhD (2009), she explored how lesbian couples' pursuit of donor conception was changing the landscape of family, kin and reproduction. After joining the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives in Machester, she carreid out a study of non-genetic kinship in the context of assisted conception together with Professor Carol Smart. The book Relative Strangers: Family lives, genes and Donor Conception was published in 2014. Her latest project, started in 2017, focuses on egg and sperm donors (Curious Connections: The Impact of Donating Egg and Sperm on Donor's Everyday Life and Relationships). In her research, Petra applies and develops qualitative methodologies and mixed qualitative approaches.
Keynote: Relative strangers: Reflections on families, connections and reproductive donation
Over the last decades, reproductive medicine has grown into a widespread global phenomenon. Donor conception, and so the utilisation of donated egg, sperm or embryos from a third party, plays a key role in that development. In the UK, it used to be that parents were advised to keep the use of a donor a secret but within the last decade the tide has turned against secrecy and instead openness and transparency has been written into policy. However, whereas this may be a ´done deal´ in terms of policy in this country, it is quite a different proposition to consider how the ideal of openness translates into practice within families themselves, and what openness about donor conception means for family relationships. In this talk, I reflect on findings from a UK based study that I conducted together with Prof Carol Smart 2011-2013, in which we investigated the impact of more transparency in the field of donor conception on intergenerational family relationships. In the first part of this talk I will highlight three overarching discoveries about families formed in this way that we uncovered: relating in the absence of an established social script; the complex meaning of genetic links in family lives; and the continuing significance of donor conception as years pass by. In the second part of this talk, I draw on our discoveries from this study to reflect on what they tell us about genes and sense-making about genetic connections more broadly. As argued by Edwards (2005), new reproductive technologies do not intrinsically transgress ideas of family or produce ´new´ ideas; rather they intensify existing ideas and make explicit that which is usually implicit. In this second part of the talk, I thus no longer seek to focus the gaze on the departure from the norm - the family formed through donor conception - but rather use such a departure as a starting point to explore the shadow-y background of normality that underscores every aspect of how reproductive technologies are utilised, experienced and made sense of. I explore how values, perceptions, assumptions and ideas embedded in the discourse of being genetically related translate into morals, practices, modes of being, habits ans relationalities within everyday family living. Ultimately, I suggest that ´genetic thinking´plays a salient role in contemporary family life.