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Remaking «Family» Communicatively


Edited By Leslie A. Baxter

Demographers have repeatedly confirmed that the nuclear family is on the decline. Yet when Americans are asked about their ideal family, the nuclear family emerges as the most valued kind of family. Members of families that do not match this cultural ideal face a discursive burden to legitimate their identity as a «family.»
This volume gathers together communication scholars who are working on the many kinds of alternative family forms, from, among others, grandfamilies, diasporic immigrant families, and military families to in (voluntarily) childless families and stepfamilies.
The organizing question for the volume focuses on resistance, reconstruction, and resilience: how is it that alternatives to the traditional family are constructed and sustained through communicative practices? Several chapters adopt a global perspective, thereby framing the issue of legitimation of «family» in a broader cultural context.
None of the family forms described in this volume meets the ideological «gold standard” of the nuclear family, and in this sense they all represent a remaking of the family in profound ways.
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Series Editor Preface


Remaking “Family” Communicatively


Remaking “Family” Communicatively represents a signficant development in the history of ideas about family communication. Since the early days of family communication studies in the 1980s, family communication scholars have labored to develop inclusive ways to think about and conceptualize “families.” Most writers of family communication textbooks, for example, have created definitions of “family” using inclusive language and often lengthy prose to create a big tent. Similarly, those who follow the family communication research literature have also seen sincere efforts towards inclusivity, but, to date, mostly have been reading about communication in human systems populated by people cast in roles using familiar historic language.This volume offers a clarion call to all those who study, teach, and live family communication: “families” are discursively dynamic and evolve. That is, borrowing a line from an old TV commercial, today’s families both are, and are not, like our “fathers’” Oldsmobiles. Professor Leslie Baxter and her authors collectively paint a wonderful portrait of the current state of conceptualizing the “family” in “family” communication that not only will inform contemporary societal discursive struggles with meanings of familial terms, but will become a much-cited work in the future.

Like this volume, the book series, Lifespan Communication: Children, Families and Aging, invites communication scholars to view communication through a panoramic lens—from first words to final conversations—a comprehensive communication ← vii | viii → vista that brings children, adolescents, adults, and...

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