Sociology of the Personal Life Perspective


Overall Belief

Sociology of the Personal Life is a relatively new perspective which unlike modernist theories Functionalism,Marxism and Feminism it adopts a bottom up approach.Meaning the theory focuses on looking at the meanings individual family members give to their relationships rather than what social instutions define as families.

Sociology of the Personal Life perspective,acknowledges a range of different relationships as family,besides the convientional types.The perspective acknowledges:same sex chosen families,fictive kin,dead relatives,pets,and friends as part of the  'family'.

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Norqvist and Smart's 2014 study

Studied donor- concived children.Found that their parents often emphasised the importance of social relationships above genetic ones.Found that where couples knew their donor,they had to resolve issues about whether he or she counted as family.Found that homosexual couples were concerned with the sperm donor might be treated as the 'real second parent'.

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Nordvist and Smart's 2014 Study Evaluation


Enables sociologist to explore diverse childhoods that exist within a single society

Smart notes there are ‘disabled children experiences’, ‘Chinese childhoods’, ‘girls childhoods’ etc

Child liberationist support this research as it empowers children and allows children to express their views

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SOTPL belief on money & conjugal roles

Meaning money has in relationships cannot be taken for granted. Cant assume that one persons control over money is a sign of inequality in a relationship.

Same sex couples- research different meaning for money

Carol Smart 2007: gay/lesbian couples attached no importance to who controls money. Do not see the control over money as sign of inequality in relationship.

Week et al: Common- pooling some money for household spending but separate accounts for personal spending. Money management system reflects ‘co-independence’ based on sharing yet each individual retains sense of independence.

Smart- same sex couples- more freedom to do what suits the couple as they do no enter relationships with the same ‘ historical, gendered, heterosexual baggage of cultural meaning around money’ that sees money as a source of power. 

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