Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What makes someone your sister or brother? No easy question in 2005

18.05.2005


Researchers delving into today’s complicated range of family set-ups must recognise that ‘brother and sister’ relationships are now about far more than blood ties and living in the same home, warns a new study sponsored by the ESRC.



As 21st Century children and young people create their own, complex understandings of who and what is a sibling, the important social implications need to be taken on board, says a working paper from a team led by Professor Rosalind Edwards of the London South Bank University.

The study found that, for many, the definition of brothers and sisters has less to do with biology and living arrangements than with their own circumstances and experiences. Professor Edwards said: “The increasing diversity of family structures in most western societies raises a number of issues around the technical fact of who is a sister or brother.


“Rising rates of divorce and separation, re-partnering and step-families, mean that children may now have full siblings (sharing both biological parents), half siblings (sharing one) and step-siblings (who are not related by blood, but each has a biological parent in a relationship).” But, she added, this diversity is rarely picked up when official statistics are collected on children and families.

The working paper says that the question of who is a brother or a sister may seem to have a simple answer – siblings are related by biology, through their parents, or at least one of them.

Professor Edwards said: “This is often an assumption underpinning statistics. However, our research reveals that children’s own answers to the question are more complex.

“For children, sibling relationships are built through everyday communication – such as talking, playing and doing activities together, and sharing experiences – or indeed the lack of it.”

The paper says that figures collected by official bodies, notably government, about the number of children living in families, are overwhelmingly collected from the point of view of the family as a household unit, rather than from that of the child.

But separated parents and re-partnering can mean that children do not necessarily live in the same household as their full biological siblings. They may also have half or step-siblings living in the same or another home.

And there can be others – full, half or step – who are no longer dependent, or are looked-after and live elsewhere.

The paper says that looking at the children themselves rather than households, the average number of siblings per child may well be higher than suggested by the figures for those living under one roof. But, it points out that there are no statistics available that allow such an estimate to be made.

Previous studies have shown that the definition of who is a sibling may differ between ethnic and cultural groups. For example, African-Caribbean and African people may view a range of biologically and non-biologically related family members as siblings, and research in the USA focuses on the longstanding practice of ‘going for kin’ amongst African-American communities. In this, non-blood relations regard each other as brother, sister, mother, father and so on.

Professor Edwards said: “This raises the importance of such things as culture, language, and social and emotional experiences in deciding who is a sibling, rather than the self-evident biological or legal position. Being a sibling is a socially built relationship, not just a technical fact.”

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
01.12.2016 | Dartmouth College

nachricht Sustainable Development Goals lead to lower population growth
30.11.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>