Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: Opening Closets, Rattling Family Skeletons: What Will They Say?

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pp. 1- 32

We welcome you to a moving collection of narratives about unresolved, and sometimes unresolvable, family conflicts. First and foremost, we thank every colleague, whether our graduate students or peers, for participating in this amazing collection. A few others expressed interest in our work and offered...

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1. A Sudden Death and the Long-Term Fragmentation of a Family

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pp. 33- 49

Through the many years of qualitative research I have conducted, I have heard many stories about other people’s families. Some were very intense and difficult to hear, even though I hardly knew the players. Knowing how important they had been to the narrators of those intimate details made them especially...

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2. Grandmother and Grandson

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pp. 51-64

Natalie is the grandmother in this story. She grew up in a Catholic family in Protestant Sweden. She had an older brother, Bert, and when she was three years old, her mother gave birth to another son, Edwin, followed three years later by a third son, Jan. ...

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3. Rupture and Repair: The Cascading Effects of Mental Illness on a Family of Innocents

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pp. 65- 81

This chapter traces how the emergence, development, diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization of my brother’s bipolar affective disorder created varying degrees and forms of family strife for more than 30 years. It shows that when our parents assumed responsibility for my brother (rather than abandoning or...

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4. “Not My Happy Ending”: A Family Struggle to Define Roles in a Challenging Time

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pp. 83- 95

I need to declare from the beginning that I write as an African who grew up to adulthood in South Africa but who now lives in Canada. This is significant because, in this chapter, I write about a conflict in my family, yet I myself admit occasional failure to successfully negotiate clashes between my African...

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5. My Sisters Are the Problem: Sibling Struggles over Power and Identity in Relation to Caring for an Aging Parent

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pp. 97- 108

Families are central to our views of how the care needs of an aging population are met, with adult children being the most likely group of relatives to provide instrumental and emotional assistance (Karantzas, Foddy, & Evans, 2003). The terms filial responsibility and filial obligation have been applied to capture...

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6. Sitting at the Steps of Hope, Love, and Hospitality

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pp. 109- 120

Arriving in the United States over a quarter of a century ago, I was confronted by the challenges that face all new immigrants. How was I going to make it in a new country? How would my family react to the changes that were about to happen in me? Out here, who would be on my side? Was I giving up too much...

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7. A Gay Actor with Multiple Scripts: Impression Management Strategies to Comply with Traditional Chinese Family Norms

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pp. 121-138

How we become who we are—how we incorporate the perceptions of others into how eventually we perceive ourselves—has formed the basis of inquiries of early as well as more recent sociologists: C. H. Cooley (1902), G. H. Mead (1964), and E. Goffman (1959, 1963), among others. What is important to...

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8. Noises and Unwanted Odours in Old Closets?

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pp. 139- 155

In this chapter, I will summarize my own experiences as an incest survivor, a working-class woman, a feminist activist, a scholar, and a creative writer. Elsewhere I have mapped some aspects of this journey of trauma and healing (Transken, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007). My belief is that my own general...

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9. A Brother No Longer: A Real Story of Family Dysfunction and Abuse

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pp. 157- 172

In my years as a sociologist, I have read about the general relationship patterns and typical behaviours of dysfunctional families, including poor communication and ineffective or punitive parenting. These types of families manifest not only negative personal outcomes but also multiple negative or even destructive...

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10. Female Excommunicated: A Life Course and Family in Conflict with Norms and Tradition

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pp. 173-186

It was during my earliest school days that I first heard about her. Mom had taken us kids and some visiting relatives to the village cemetery. While we cousins ran along what looked like a hilly slope in the woods surrounded by a low stone wall, the adults stood around talking in low voices. When I came...

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Conclusion: Strategies That Work and That Fail to Work

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pp. 187- 206

As the editors of this unique and fascinating collection, we will try to highlight some patterns in the emergence of conflicts and how different families try to dissipate these conflicts. However, we urge our readers to also draw their own conclusions about the narratives they have read, even if their conclusions...

Appendix

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pp. 207-210

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About the Editors

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pp. 211-212

Aysan Sev’er is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for her work on violence against women. Her current research focuses on extreme forms of violence against women in India and in southeastern Turkey...