MobileKids at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology
Two and a half years after their wonderful experience at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology held in Toronto, Canada, the MobileKids Team was selected to organize two sessions and one panel at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology. Initially planned to be held in Porte Alegre, Brazil, on July 14-18, 2020, the covid-19 pandemic forced the organizers to move the date to February 23-28 2021 and hold the entire event in a virtual form.
Bérengère Nobels and Laura Merla (UCLouvain) led a session with Jana Mikats (University Graz, Austria) on the Changing idea of the Family and the Shifting notion of Home. Laura Merla also led a session with Barbara Barbosa Neves (University of Melbourne) and Jo Lindsay (Monash University) on Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life. Moreover, Sarah Murru (UCLouvain) co-organized a panel with Emily Springer (Arizona State University) and Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (University of Bristo) on The Premise and Promise of Institutional Ethnography.
Alongside these sessions, Sarah Murru and Coralie Theys also presented a paper entitled “Critical Analysis of the Use of the Socio-Spatial Network Game in a Study on Shared Physical Custody to Capture the Children’s Standpoint” in the session on Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life. And Sarah Murru also presented a paper entitled “Children’s Experiences of Living in Joint Physical Custody in Italy: Norms and Practices”in the session on Living in Joint Physical Custody Care Arrangements after Parental Break-up.
To learn more about these, read below the 3 sessions/panel’s descriptions and the presentations’ abstracts :
ISA CONFERENCE SESSIONS:
1/ From the Changing Idea of “the Family” to a Shifting Notion of Home? Spatiotemporal, Material and Affective Aspects of Contemporary Family Life (RC06 Family Research and RC43 Housing and Built Environment), organized by Jana Mikats (University Graz, Austria), Bérengère Nobels (UCLouvain) and Laura Merla (UCLouvain).
In family research current issues relating to mobility, multi-locality and fluidity in family life (e.g. migration, divorced families, blurred work-life boundaries, etc.) have brought up an increased interest in space and the notion of home – topics that have been marginalized for a long time.
The concepts of family and home have been strongly linked by the idea of the nuclear family (Hareven, 1991). However, the understanding of the family as a stable unit limited to a single house has been insufficient for capturing contemporary lives. Correspondingly, scholarly work introduced more complex definitions and multidimensional approaches to family life as well as to home and housing, notwithstanding the incorporation of the two realms still falls short and one has to ask whether the meaning of home has transformed along with the fading idea of ‘the family’ (James, 2013).
In this session, we wish to examine practices of doing family and home in various contexts, with focus on the temporal, spatial, material and affective aspects of everyday life. Our aim is to bring together different perspectives on “home” from mono-local to multi-local phenomena. We welcome papers that examine the shifting boundaries of home and family life and, more specifically, between private and public spheres, family, work and leisure or material and virtual spaces. The session seeks to capture family members’ (adults and/or children) “ways of living” (Schmitz, 2012), through the articulation between life spaces, mobility, sense of place and/or social relations as well as the emerging practical, legal and political constraints.
2/ Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life (RC06 Family Research), organized by Barbara Barbosa Neves (University of Melbourne), Laura Merla (UCLouvain) and Jo Lindsay (Monash University)
Creative and innovative methods, such as arts-based research and new digital methods, have been used by sociologists to address increasingly complex and multifaceted questions about social life (Kara, 2015). For example, studying transnational families, digital technologies and family dynamics, or family and consumption practices, requires approaches that push the methodological boundaries. Additionally, current attempts to give voice to children, older adults, and vulnerable groups, as well as to decolonize methodology have also engaged more openly with creative and innovative approaches – from working creatively with existing methods to developing new techniques and instruments (see Smith, 2013). This session will showcase methodological and empirical work that provides an informed and critical examination of the topic. In particular, we invite contributions that address both opportunities and challenges of creative and innovative methods. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
Arts-based research (e.g., performance arts)
• Digital methods (e.g., netnography, online survey research, VR)
• Usability and accessibility testing (e.g., Think Aloud, multi-methods)
• Participatory research (e.g., co-design)
• Creative storytelling
• Socio-spatial methods (e.g., socio-spatial network games, emotion maps)
• Crystallization methodology
• Mixed methods
• Creative approaches to existing methods
• New research instruments
• Ethical approaches (e.g., micro-ethics/ethics-in-practice)
• Epistemology, ontology, & axiology.
ISA CONFERENCE PANEL:
1/ The Premise and Promise of Institutional Ethnography (WG06 Institutional Ethnography), organized by Sarah Murru (UClouvain), Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (University of Bristol) and Emily Springer (Arizona State University).
Just what is institutional ethnography? How can young scholars understand its premise, promise, and potential for changing the conditions of our lives? And how can we, as scholars well-acquainted with IE, successfully introduce students to IE? This panel invites participation from IE scholars to debate and consider the foundations of institutional ethnography as a method for inquiry and how to invite students and junior scholars to take up that legacy. The goal of this panel is to bring what happens as murmurs, quiet unshared confusions and shy questions to the limelight to help build up the practice of IE.
Understanding IE as a conceptual framework for inquiry can be daunting. This is not least a due to a socialization into sociology as a social science, which emphasizes positivist understandings of the social world, and the presentation of qualitative research as intended to « build theory. Collectively, trans-generationally, trans-continentally and grounded in our own experiences, this panel will address the following questions: How can young scholars pause the impulse for theory-based thinking? How can we avoid using concepts such as “justice”, “racism” or « resistance » without explaining how they actually work? How can IE contribute to our disciplines and universities without compromising its foundations as a method for inquiry and a sociology in itself?
Sarah Murru (UCLouvain)
Paul Luken (University of West Georgia)
Debra Talbot (University of Sydney)
ISA PAPER PRESENTATIONS:
1/ “Critical Analysis of the Use of the Socio-Spatial Network Game in a Study on Shared Physical Custody to Capture the Children’s Standpoint”, presented by Sarah Murru (UCLouvain) and Coralie Theys (UCLouvain) in the session on Innovative and Creative Methods to Study Family Life (RC06 Family Research)
Based on an ongoing research project entitled MobileKids: Children in Multi-Local, Post-Separation Families (ERC Starting Grant project – supervision: Prof. Laura Merla), this paper critically examines the use of the Socio-Spatial Network Game (SSNG) as an innovative method to observe children in shared physical custody’s experiences of multi-locality. The problematic is to understand how the lives of children are affected by divorce, mobility and multilocality in the context of shared custody arrangements, and how children accommodate to this family situation. The SSNG is a board game where children can concretely construct the experience of their multi-local everyday life (Schier et al 2015). In other words, it is as a space sensitive tool for qualitative egocentric network analysis, that is developed for research with children and allows great creative freedom in an aim to capture information about social relations and their spatial dimensions. This paper will thus start by exposing the method, its pertinence to capture the children’s standpoint, as well as an ethical reflection of its use with minors. As we all mobilize the SSNG during our first encounter with children, we then propose a critical and reflexive analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of using this method in a collective project such as MobileKids – where each researcher focuses on a specific research question. In particular, we present how the method was used to document social networks in two separate sub-cases: one that focuses specifically on children’s social networks, and the other that is framed as an institutional ethnography, documenting everyday practices.
2/ “Children’s Experiences of Living in Joint Physical Custody in Italy: Norms and Practices” presented by Sarah Murru (UCLouvain) in the session on Living in Joint Physical Custody Care Arrangements after Parental Break-up (RC06 Family Research).
This paper presents new results that emerged from an innovative research grounded in a yearlong fieldwork in Turin, Italy, where I exchanged with 22 children living in JPC, aged 10 to 16. The data presented, as well as the creative methodological design that was put into place, comes from an ERC Starting Grant funded research project entitled MobileKids: Children in Multi-Local, Post-Separation Families (supervision, Prof. Laura Merla). The problematic is to understand how the lives of children are affected by divorce, mobility and multilocality in the context of shared custody arrangements, and how children accommodate to this family situation. Considering children as active social actors that can, to various extents, exercise agency and influence on their own lives as well as on the lives of the people surrounding them, while being constrained by institutions (James & Prout 1997, Sirota 2012), I look at the process of moving from one house to the other every week and ask how children maneuver inside this mobility. In this perspective, I look into the work that is done to move from one home to the other: what are the children in charge of, what resources or infrastructures are made available to them, what skills/competences do they have (had) to acquire, where is there coordination with the work of others (parents, siblings, etc.)?
The overarching question being: how these children’s family practices are socially organized (what discourses/norms/ideologies shape them) and, especially, what role children play in this context?