Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Family ties in genes and stories: The importance of value and recognition in the narratives people tell of family

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Janice McLaughlinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Diagnosis in paediatric genetics involves a combination of technologies able to display variation in DNA and clinical discussions with families that concentrate on retrieving family histories. This paper explores the significance of the family tales that genetics brings to the fore. Through discussion of an ESRC-funded ethnographic study of families referred to a paediatric genetic service, the paper explores how genetics and family history intersect in ‘relations of exchange’ (Latimer, 2013). It draws from sociological work on family that emphasizes the importance of narrative to the formation and maintenance of family ties and the importance of broader social contexts to the kinds of stories that can be told and recognized by others.The paper emphasizes the significance of claims to respectability and value to the narratives people provide of family ties; particularly in contexts where such ties, in the past or the present, are thought of as ‘troubling’. Making reference to research by Skeggs and Loveday (2012), it is argued that an important narrative that is drawn upon, in order to claim respectability, is that of being a good parent who protects their children from socially ‘risky relations’ so that a positive future as a ‘subject of value’ may be possible.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McLaughlin J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociological Review

Year: 2015

Volume: 63

Issue: 3

Pages: 626-643

Print publication date: 01/08/2015

Online publication date: 27/11/2014

Acceptance date: 26/09/2014

Date deposited: 03/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0038-0261

ISSN (electronic): 1467-954X

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12223


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name