9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Same Sex Families Building II, Auditório B1.03

Is a family type based affirmative action needed and possible? Analysis of school situation of lesbian and gay men´s children in Spain and a tentative comparison with Poland and Europe

This paper analyses the process of social inclusion of families of lesbian and gay parents with children, the specific scope of research being their interactions with the school.
The first part reports on 15 communicative life stories carried out with members of families in question in the Spanish Autonomous Province of Catalonia in 2008, with a view to identifying if, why and how the processes excluding this non-traditional family type persist even in one of the European countries with the most progressive family legislation. Following on from the state of the art´s contributions on the key role of communication in LG families´ exclusion, the analysis is realised within the interactionist and communicative framework as formulated by J. Habermas (1984) theory of communicative action and J. Butlers (1990) theory of performative acts, operationalised as communication acts drawing on J. Searle and M. Soler (2004). The findings reveal that LG families are distinguished by assuming different communication strategies related to managing information about the parents´ identity, with the selective and non-communication strategies generating conflict between the children´s personal and social identities and limiting their social capital. The strategies are negotiated by all the family members and may evolve over time. They are linked to the family members´ ideas about their social inclusion, to context factors such as the family structure and its social capital, as well as to the dominant cultural discourses, the national legislation and its correspondence to the national school curriculum.
The second part of the paper, drawing on the aforementioned study and on comparative secondary data, tentatively investigates the hypothesis that, given the present relationship between the European and the national law, it is the Spanish national law that opens the possibility of the full inclusion of LG families. This possibility is not present in countries whose national legislation and school curriculum exclude those families, as e.g. in Poland. Still, apart from the national legislation factor there are starting to operate increasingly convergent European cultural values, forming an inclusive and mobilising point of reference for LG families, especially ones in countries such as Poland.