4.2 Introducing surveillance

The videos in this section will introduce you to surveillance as an idea and a practice. The main theme of these videos is how surveillance can be viewed as double-edged: it has both protective and disciplinary aspects to it. This double-edged nature of surveillance is explored through a case study of a shopping mall – the White Rose Centre on the outskirts of Leeds. You will come across a range of different evidence, including interviews with an academic, a policymaker and different users
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2 Note taking from an audio visual text

The first important point to make is that note taking is more than a process of summarising everything that you see; it must be an active process of engaging with the material and thinking it through for yourself. In the videos, the multidimensional nature of the visual images and the stories they convey means that you will not be able to take in everything on first viewing. The videos allow us to present visual as well as audio information and in a form that makes it easier for you to revisi
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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creative Commons licence). See Terms and Conditions.

Figures

Figure 2 Co
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References

Bernardes, J. (1987) ‘“Doing things with words”: Sociology and “Family Policy” debates’, Sociological Review, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 679–702.
Bernardes, J. (1993) ‘Responsibilities in studying postmodern families’, Journal of Family Therapy, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 35–49.
Bernardes, J. (2003[1985]) ‘Do we really know what “the family” is?’
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4.5 Summary

So far, then, we have seen that family meanings matter for individuals, for social policy and professional practices, and for family studies – both for the ways in which family studies are undertaken, and for the ways in which such academic work impinges upon wider understandings and social processes. Each area of family meanings may thus also shape each of the other areas.


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4.3 Family meanings matter in social policies and professional practices

In the studies by Walkover and Ribbens we can see individuals caught between a generalised cultural ideal and the messiness and ambivalences of everyday lives. This tension between the generality of ‘family’ as an idealised model, and the fluidity of individual lives in everyday contexts, is also a key difficulty for the development of social policies, and for the procedures and administrative structures of professional practices. This takes us back to Bernardes' question: how is it possi
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4.1 Family and meanings?

We have considered the difficulties of pinning down family definitions and meanings. We now ask whether it is indeed important to explore and unravel these complexities. Do the varieties of family meanings – or the meaning of ‘family’ itself – matter, or do they just provide a minor intellectual diversion? You may like to pause here for a moment to consider how you would answer this question for yourself. Do you think they matter, and if so, in what ways?

We consider this questi
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3.1 Studying families

However, if the concept is so tremendously complex, how then can we study family?

Activity 3

Please read the following piece from Jaber Gubrium and James Holstein (1990), where you are introduced to Borg, the extraterrestrial cyborg.
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2.2 Responding to the problems

Consequently, some academics have increasingly voiced concerns about whether it is possible to define family satisfactorily at all – or, indeed, whether it serves any useful purpose even to try. The extract you will look at in the following activity is taken from an Introduction to a four-volume collection of readings on Family: Critical Concepts in Sociology. In this Introduction, the author seeks to find a way of defining family that will work across the four volumes of readings on
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1.1 Introducing ‘family meanings’

Wendy: What's important about being in a family?

Juliet: I've got mixed feelings in a way, cause I sometimes feel they are over-rated … You don't have to be suffocated in a two parents and a couple of kids situation. To me that is not the be all and end all.

Fred: … it's the natural flow of family life isn't it. You know that you get old
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concept of ’ (knowledge and understanding);

  • Engage with and review debates about selected key concepts relevant to the study of families and personal relationships;

  • Identify connections between concepts and the themes they raise for research and for social policy;

  • Understand some of the social processes underlying research around family issue
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Introduction

In this unit you will encounter many different voices and views of ‘family’, and sometimes you will also be invited to reflect on your own views and assumptions. So, we welcome you to the fascinating study of family meanings. By putting ‘meanings’ at centre stage, and using this as a framework to examine families and relationships, this unit will give you an opportunity to explore the shifting and subtle ways in which people themselves, researchers, policy-makers and professionals mak
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References

Arnett, P. et al. (1998) Flash! Associated Press Covers the World, New York, Harry N. Abrams.
Barley, N. (1983) The Innocent Anthropologist, London, Penguin.
Becker, H.S. (1985) ‘Do photographs tell the truth?’ in Cook, T.D. and Reichardt, C.S. (eds) Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Evaluation Research, London, Sage.
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Looking at the family: the 1950s

Activity 4

3.2 Looking at the family

Activity 3

The 1990s wedding photograph

Figure 3
Figure 3: Wedding group in 1997.

Now let us look at the 1990s image. This too depicts a wedding. What makes it different from that of
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2.4 Looking closely at photographs for social data

Activity 2

Look at the photographs of a wedding group in Figures 2 a
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2.2 Theories, documents and knowledge

Documentary evidence is often messy and inconsistent, and even where it seems to be ‘factual’ (for example in the form of official records) its precise meaning in terms of wider social processes is far from clear. There is uncertainty about what it means, as well as the representation of uncertainty and diversity in the images. In every case, the meaning of the evidence is dependent on interpretation, that is, the part of the theory we employ to understand what is going on.
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1.4 The context of photographs

When this picture first appeared in newspapers and magazines in 1972, it was to be found next to a caption and in many cases a supporting article as well. The caption text might have been simply descriptive (in most cases, probably taken from the agency caption supplied with the photograph). Where there was also an article, this would have been a text that placed the image in context, either in terms of the specific event of which the photograph is a direct record, or in terms of a wider acco
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1.3 Nick Ut's 1972 Vietnam war photograph

Figure 1 Huynh Cong (Nick) Ut, 1972.
Figure 1: Huynh Cong (Nick) Ut, 1972: ‘Phan Thi Kim Phuc, centre, her burning cl
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