Date / Time

10:30 am 17/02/2020 -

11:30 am 17/02/2020


Seminar 201, Level 2 - Cycad Building #1018, Long Pocket, The University of Queensland


80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly QLD, Australia

80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly QLD, Australia

The work of Gary Becker and the “new” economics of the family radically altered the ways in which social scientists understood family formation, family functioning, and family dissolution; emphasizing the role of economic rationality. One consequence of this economic turn in family research is the sidelining of the traditional focus on norms, values, and culture. However, what is rational from an economic perspective is not given – particularly in the context of a deep recession. In addition, economic shocks are never truly exogenous. Instead, the resulting experiences are mediated by the different tools and resources available to people by virtue of family background and biography. To adequately understand differences in outcomes, theory and methods need to be more attentive to context and contingencies.

This paper begins by discussing the “econo-centric” turn in family studies and its implications for both theory and research. Central to the issue is the production of a wide and very influential literature on the socioeconomics of family life. We then highlight the idea of “familistic” culture that demographers have used to explain certain group differences in family forms. As both culture and economy are experienced and translated through background and biography, we further discuss how the dynamics of socioeconomic standing and experience over the life course shape such things. Empirically, we combine and harmonize data from the Growing Up in Ireland child cohort with comparable cohorts from the UK Milennium Cohort study to analyze the combined effects of socioeconomic status, economic change associated with the Great Recession, and variation in the strength of familistic culture on risk of family dissolution during the adolescent years.

Carmel Hannan is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick, Ireland and director of the recently funded “Sociologists who Count!” national research group. She is currently visiting the Life Course Centre as part of a year long research sabbatical. Carmel’s research focuses on stratification issues within the family particularly as they relate to class dynamics. Her latest publication is on causality in life course research (with Ross MacMillan in SSLS). She has led a number of Irish Research Council funded projects focusing on the effects of family structure on child and family wellbeing over the life course. She is currently working on a comparative study of the effects of the economic crisis on families as well as leading a project on how schools influence STEM subject choice. Carmel received her DPhil from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Nuffield Fellow and held a Junior Dean position at Brasenose College as well as a research fellow position at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. Prior to Oxford, she worked as a senior researcher at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex and at the Economic and Social Research Institute, in Dublin.