Families, Secrets and Memories

Smart, Carol (2011) Families, Secrets and Memories. Sociology, 45 (4). pp. 539-553. ISSN 0038-0385

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In this article I argue that the telling of family secrets is tied into the workings of family memories and that the stories that people tell cannot be regarded as simple factual accounts. Rather they are amongst the kinds of stories that are part of the constitution of ‘the family’. Secrets, it might be assumed, are buried and forgotten but it is equally likely in families that secrets can be kept alive by innuendo, palpable silences, and rumour. I argue that it is important to understand the sociological significance of family secrets, not because they reveal a simple ‘truth’ about family life, but because these secrets are a route into understanding the complex relationship between power, the personal, the cultural and the social. This entanglement of secrets, memories and family practices is explored through written accounts of family secrets found in the Mass Observation Project. The study of family secrets throws additional light on the everyday workings of families and the ways in which family stories are managed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: 4. Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis > 4.23 Qualitative Approaches (other)
Depositing User: Realities user
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2011 12:16
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 13:54
URI: https://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1894

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