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Documenting Families: Paper-Work in Family Display among Planned Single Father Families

Zadeh, S., Jadva, V. ORCID: 0000-0003-0922-0694 & Golombok, S. (2022). Documenting Families: Paper-Work in Family Display among Planned Single Father Families. Sociology, 56(5), pp. 859-875. doi: 10.1177/00380385211073238


This article extends existing sociological scholarship on doing and displaying family by developing the concept of documenting families. We suggest that documenting is conceptually rich insofar as it showcases the relationship, and tensions, between institutional practices and individual experiences of family display. Drawing on our research with men who became parents without partners, we argue that the process of documenting family is made especially evident in studies of what Finch originally referred to as ‘non-conventional’ family relationships. We explain that documenting sheds light not only on the official and unofficial means through which families are recognised on paper, but also on family practices as work – in this case paper-work – that involves negotiation between different social actors who are generally unequal in terms of their authority and agency to impose situational meaning.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: documents, family display, paperwork, single fathers, single fathers by choice
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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