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This book is the fifth in a series by the Cambridge Socio-legal Group and is a product of a three day conference held in Cambridge in September 2005. It concerns the evolving notions and practices of kinship in contemporary Britain and the interrelationship of kinship, law and social policy. Assembling contributions from scholars in a range of disciplines, it examines social, legal, cultural and psychological questions related to kinship.
Rising rates of divorce and of alternative modes of partnership have raised questions about the care and well-being of children, while increasing longevity and mobility, together with lower birth rates and changes in our economic circumstances, have led to a reconsideration of duties and responsibilities towards the care of elderly people. In addition, globalisation trends and international flows of migrants and refugees have confronted us with alternative constructions of kinship and with the challenges of maintaining kinship ties transnationally.
Finally, new developments in genetics research and the growing use of assisted reproductive technologies may raise questions about our notions of kinship and of kin rights and responsibilities. The chapters in this book explore these changes and continuities from various disciplinary perspectives and draw on theoretical and empirical data to describe understandings and practices of kinship over time and across social groups in contemporary Britain. As will be evident throughout the book, meanings of kinship are multiple, contingent, and contested. Folk, institutional and disciplinary understandings constitute kinship in different ways, and these understandings shift with time and place.