With Family Rhythms we aimed to create a textbook with a difference. We wanted to re-vision Irish families past and present through the lens of new sociological approaches that focus on family configurations and everyday practices, rather than on ‘the family’ as an institution. To do this, we drew on major new datasets deposited in the Irish Qualitative Data Archive - Life Histories and Social Change and the first wave of qualitative interviews carried out with nine-year olds and their parents as part of the Growing Up in Ireland study.
We also aimed to create a student friendly text that highlighted landmark studies of Irish family life – both new studies of our rapidly changing experiences and classic, sometimes almost forgotten, studies that reveal much about continuity and change in Irish families since the early part of the last century. We explore changing family experiences from the perspective of different stages of the life course - childhood, early adulthood, parenting in the middle years and grandparenthood – placing them in the context of wider societal changes in demography and values and economic and community life. Throughout we discuss some of the policy implications of sociological research on families and provide samples of original data for students to reflect on. Research for the book was supported by the Irish Research Council through a Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowship.
Dr. Jane Gray is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University.
Ruth Geraghty is a Data Curator for the Children's Research Network at the Centre for Effective Services.
David Ralph is Assistant Professor of Sociology at TCD.