cover of book

Like Family: Narratives of Fictive Kinship
by Margaret K. Nelson
Rutgers University Press, 2020
eISBN: 978-0-8135-7392-2 | Paper: 978-0-8135-6405-0 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-6406-7
Library of Congress Classification HQ536.N45 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.850973

For decades, social scientists have assumed that “fictive kinship” is a phenomenon associated only with marginal peoples and people of color in the United States.  In this innovative book, Nelson reveals the frequency, texture and dynamics of relationships which are felt to be “like family” among the white middle-class. Drawing on extensive, in-depth interviews, Nelson describes the quandaries and contradictions, delight and anxiety, benefits and costs, choice and obligation in these relationships. She shows the ways these fictive kinships are similar to one another as well as the ways they vary—whether around age or generation, co-residence, or the possibility of becoming “real” families. Moreover she shows that different parties to the same relationship understand them in some similar – and some very different – ways. Theoretically rich and beautifully written, the book is accessible to the general public while breaking new ground for scholars in the field of family studies.

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