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Seeking and rejecting certainty: Exposing the sophisticated lifeworlds of parents of disabled babies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Janice McLaughlinORCiD



There are many debates in the social sciences about the certain and uncertain nature of subjectivity and knowledge. Often these debates create competing theoretical camps, each hell bent on refuting the other (materialist-idealists; modernist-postmodernists; structuralists-post- structuralists; medical-social). These critiques often fail to engage with the social and material lives of human actors, particularly when those actors occupy positions of relative marginalization. This article pitches these debates in emerging accounts of parents of disabled babies, which have developed from a three-year ESRC research study.1 We highlight the ways in which parents adaptively and strategically use and refuse forms of certainty and uncertainty in order to configure ways of living with their children.We suggest that parents are nomadic but also settlers in the journeys with their children, and that modernist and postmodernist analyses both allow us to make sense of parents' situated agency within particular social, cultural and material locations. Copyright © 2008.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McLaughlin J, Goodley D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology

Year: 2008

Volume: 42

Issue: 2

Pages: 317-335

ISSN (print): 0038-0385

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8684

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0038038507087356


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