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Necessary Burdens: Sacrifice as a Way of Life A Family Health Portrait

Mara Buchbinder


Linda Garro

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 92


In this family health portrait, we examine how family health practices are embedded within more perduring concerns of family life, including relationships, work, education, and time. Our analysis is grounded in a discussion of the “lifestyle” concept as it pertains to family health and wellbeing. Departing somewhat from the public health literature, which tends to view lifestyle primarily vis-ŕ-vis individual choices and constraints, we frame the family’s health and wellbeing in terms of a series of “necessary burdens” in everyday life. Focusing on a series of interactions unfolding around the mother’s preparation of chicken soup, we explore what they can tell us about wellbeing, sacrifice, and gendered notions of care in the context of family life. In doing so, we demonstrate an analytic strategy by which health and wellbeing are considered in terms of their contextualized meanings and webs of significance as lived out in families’ ongoing routines and everyday lives.

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