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Feminist Theory and Research on Family Relationships: Pluralism and Complexity


Feminist perspectives on family relationships begin with the critique of the idealized template of the White, middle class, heterosexually married couple and their dependent children. Feminist scholars take family diversity and complexity as their starting point, by emphasizing how power infuses all of family relationships, from the local to the global scale. As the main location for caring and productive labor, families are the primary unit for providing gendered socialization and distributing power across the generations. In this issue and two subsequent issues of Sex Roles, we have collected theoretical and empirical articles that include critical analyses, case studies, quantitative studies, and qualitative studies that focus on a wide array of substantive topics in the examination of families. These topics include variations in marital and intimate partnerships and dissolution; motherhood and fatherhood in relation to ideology and practice; intergenerational parent–child relationships and socialization practices; and paid and unpaid labor. All of the articles across the three issues are guided by a type of feminist theory (e.g., gender theory; intersectional theory; Black feminist theory; globalization theory; queer theory) and many incorporate multiple theoretical perspectives, including mainstream social and behavioral science theories. Another feature of the collection is the authors’ insistence on conducting research that makes a difference in the lives of the individuals and families they study, thereby generating a wealth of practical strategies for relevant future research and empowering social change. In this introduction, we specifically address the first six articles in the special collection on feminist perspectives on family relationships.

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Correspondence to Katherine R. Allen.

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Allen, K.R., Jaramillo-Sierra, A.L. Feminist Theory and Research on Family Relationships: Pluralism and Complexity. Sex Roles 73, 93–99 (2015).

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  • Families
  • Family relationships
  • Feminist research
  • Feminist theory
  • Intersectionality