Interim Meeting of the ESA RN13 - Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

11 - 13 June 2018 Kuopio, Finland



What does ‘being a family’ mean? How is it created and how do we recognize a family? Who is entitled to family? Questions like these are relevant in different fields of family research, but they are also important for the self-understanding of family research as such. These questions are also at the core of many current political debates in Europe. Despite the long-term trend of liberalization, in recent years strengthening nationalism and right-wing populism, for example, have pushed for a rather restricted and ‘traditional’ understanding of family. Debates on who is entitled to marriage, adoption, subsidized fertility treatment or general family-related state support have intensified in many European societies.

Family researchers are in a crucial position to offer up-to-date knowledge on how people live as families and what kind of a social institution the family is in contemporary societies. There is a growing awareness among researchers that, even if progress has been made on some issues (for example, in the acknowledgement of same-sex relationships in some European societies), on other questions inequality prevails or is even growing (for example, regarding refugees and their rights to family relationships).

Defining family is not an innocent act, and it has never been one. It has far-reaching implications, for science, policies and society. This conference seeks to bring together research that either directly focuses on families and family relationships as they are known and unknown, or that analyses the social and/or political contexts in which this question is relevant and debated. In addition, we invite papers that highlight the implications and/or consequences of family understandings and those that in one way or another contribute to our understanding of contemporary family life as a particular form of inter- and intrapersonal relatedness.

We welcome empirical and theoretical papers. Submission of abstracts has ended.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by February 18, 2018. Accepted papers exceeding the scheduled number of oral presentations have the opportunity to be displayed as a poster.

Conference attendance is free to members of the ESA RN13 and €50 for non-members.

RN13 wants to encourage junior scholars and PhD students to attend the interim meeting. To this end, the two best PhD papers will be awarded a prize of €250 each. When submitting your abstract, please indicate that you want to participate in the competition and indicate whether your research is (predominantly) quantitative, qualitative or theoretical.


Keynote speakers:

Ingrid Arnet Connidis (Western University, CA) and Petra Nordqvist (University of Manchester, UK)

Local organisers:

Miisa Törölä, conference secretary, Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland miisa.torola[at]

Anna-Maija Castrén, Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland



The conference has received state subsidy from the Ministry of Education and Culture via the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies.