About CELFFaculty, Fellows and StaffCalendar of EventsResearch & Working PapersWork-Family ResourcesHome

Talk of War: Battle News, Inside Stories and Family

Alesia Montgomery

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 17


Much of the literature on middle class families in the U.S. has centered on how they engage in mundane routines (e.g., watching television, eating dinner). To place these everyday practices in context, we must consider how crises beyond the home—filtered through mass media and family narratives—may affect the negotiation, meaning and impact of these routines. Drawing upon video and interview data collected by an interdisciplinary team at the UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF), in this paper I compare talk about Iraq war news within three families as they go about their daily lives in the Los Angeles metropolitan area between February and April 2003, as the war in Iraq loomed, intensified and (for a time) waned. In particular, I focus on how parents and children co-create "inside stories"—personal renderings of the news—that conserve or transform their emotional states and family routines (e.g, the ways in which they work, worship, play and learn with others in-and-beyond the home). I frame my ethnographic research with Pew Research Center survey data regarding the impact of war news on emotions and routines during that time period. I theoretically ground my analyses in the literature on media and politics as well as the sociology of emotions and morality. When we fail to place family practices in socio-historical context, we may over-estimate the generalizability of our observations, under-estimate the complexity of family life and conflate the stresses of home/work "time binds" with the times in which we live.

Home | About Us | Faculty, Fellows & Staff | Calendar of Events
Research & Working Papers | Work-Family Resources