Unravelling the monogamy-nuclear family nexus. Empirical study on discourses of exclusivity and plurality in the context of the normative two-parent nuclear family

Het monogame gezin ontrafeld. Empirische studie naar vertogen van exclusiviteit en meervoudigheid in de context van het twee-ouder gezinsmodel
Start - End 
2016 - 2019 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures



The proposed research seeks to provide an analysis of how parents reproduce and challenge in
everyday practice and discourse the norms and moralities of monogamy and the nuclear family. It
will explore how dyadic sexuality and nuclear parenthood are bound together and mutually
reinforcing. The study will use multi-method empirical research, including internet ethnographic
research and interviews with parents in various relationship constellations. This empirical query
will help to investigate the structure and contingency of the existing moral order and the
institutional and collective basis of people’s feelings and desires. It will investigate how an imagery
of exclusivity structures the monogamy-nuclear family nexus, making ‘natural’ and legitimate
certain relationships, practices and feelings, while denouncing others. Doing so, this study aims to
move beyond merely psychological explanations to a more comprehensive social understanding of
the affects, power inequalities and exclusions that are produced and reproduced in the intimacy of
the personal life. Understanding how the moral order is construed can be an important step in
rethinking that order in more inclusive and emancipatory ways and providing alternatives to
existing scripts. This is particularly important in light of current day increasing diversification of
relationship and family constellations and the new questions and ethical debates it generates.