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The Forgotten Kin: Aunts and Uncles Hardcover – November 30, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521516761 ISBN-10: 0521516765 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521516765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521516761
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,506,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Robert Milardo has produced an excellent empirically based and theoretically informed study of the significance of aunts and uncles in contemporary family networks. He shows how these relationships, largely ignored in the research literature, can be highly influential in shaping personal development and family process. This book makes a very welcome contribution to our knowledge."
- Graham Allan, Keele University

"This book is a landmark publication in family studies because its focus moves beyond the nuclear family unit. I predict that the concepts of aunting and uncling will gain prominence in the literature. Milardo has a clear and at times humorous writing style. I enjoyed reading the book very much. It is a thoughtful and original exposé of the way in which the family work of aunts and uncles both supplements and complements parents."
- Pearl A. Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

"Long overdue, The Forgotten Kin, is a compelling read that draws attention to the important role that aunts and uncles play in our everyday lives and, in so doing, demonstrates how these relationships previously treated as peripheral are truly central. Beautifully written and eloquently expressed, Robert Milardo parses themes of support, intergenerational buffering, mentoring, friendship, and family history-keeping from the rich personal stories of over one hundred aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Milardo's thoughtful qualitative analysis provides a first look at the all too often invisible contributions that aunts and uncles make to family life. This milestone book will do nothing less than transform the way we view families and provides a bold new agenda for family scholars."
- Heather Helms, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

"This book is a treat. Milardo draws on rich, probing, multi-faceted interviews to show us yet another way that family members break out of their nuclear boundaries. Aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews move in and out of each others lives in both mundane and surprising ways, which Milardo documents with humor, clarity, and thoroughness. In the process, we get a new appreciation of generativity and a deeper understanding of the reciprocal benefits that flow out of these relationships."
- Stephen Marks, The University of Maine

"Draws on interview and other data in a study of the role of aunts and uncles in family networks..."
--The Chronicle of Higher Education

"....intriguing.... The volume is well written and engaging. It will remain a key treatise on this topic, long after other scholars have turned attention to this focus.... Milardo presents an interesting and impressive examination of the relationships between aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews. The book breaks away from the constrained view of the isolated nuclear family and moves us toward a more complete understanding of family relationships.... His work draws attention to these previously neglected familial relationships and paves the way for further consideration of aunts and uncles in future research."
--Megan Gilligan and Karen L. Fingerman, Purdue University, Journal of Marriage and Family

"....The Forgotten Kin offers much to social scientists, educators, social workers, policymakers. With its basis in family histories, in the interweaving of personal and collective stories of past and present and hopes for the future, this book also points to a number of provocative themes and issues for family historians to pursue. It has certainly inspired this one to pay closer attention to how kinship operates both within families and outside them, as an essential part of the daily lives of ordinary people in the past."
--Cynthia Comacchio, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, Journal of Family History

"....Bob Milardo has written what is the most thorough, comprehensive family studies analysis to date of the relationships between aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. He has richly described ANUN relations and answered key, basic questions about them. He is a scholar with a deep knowledge of research on the family yet his text will be enjoyed by a broad audience. He is trailblazer whose book widens and extends the path into ANUN relations. I recommend it for its depiction of those relations and for the possibility that you will be among those who further develop scholarship on this topic."
--Dan Perlman, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, IARR's "Relationship News"

Book Description

In this path-breaking assessment of families, sociologist Robert M. Milardo demonstrates how aunts and uncles contribute to the daily lives of parents and their children. Aunts and uncles complement the work of parents, sometimes replace that work, and sometimes form entirely unique brands of intimacy grounded in a lifetime of shared experiences. The Forgotten Kin aims to change the public discourse on families and renew an appreciation for the fundamentals of family ensembles and personal intimacies grounded in multiple relationships.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marie in Michigan on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a childfree woman in my early 30s, I found The Forgotten Kin to be very supportive of my and my husband's decision to invest our generative energies into our nieces and nephews (and our community) rather than into children of our own. We are not fond of the idea of being parents, but we truly enjoy aunting and uncling and I loved learning these new words from the book!

It was reassuring to discover that our notions of being responsible, but fun adults for our young relatives to hang out with, confide in and see as role models were upheld by the author's findings. Interestingly, until I read the book, I though it was ONLY about childfree aunts and uncles, but it actually covered aunts and uncles who are parents, too.

The Forgotten Kin is a academic read to be sure, but there are plenty of interesting quotes from the interviewees (aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews from New Zealand and Maine) and funny one-line commentaries from the author to make it a relatively quick, enlightening and entertaining read. I would recommend it to anyone with a personal or professional interest in family studies beyond simply parents and their children.
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More About the Author

Bob is Professor of Family Relations at the University of Maine, his academic home for over three decades. He has published extensively in leading journals and books, and served as the founding editor of the Journal of Family Theory & Review (2007-2014) and editor of the Journal of Marriage & Family (1996-2001) both owned by the National Council on Family Relations. He was elected fellow of NCFR in 2005. Bob is active in the developing science of personal relationships and elected as the first president of the International Association for Relationship Research. He served as a visiting Hofstede Research Fellow at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in The Hague and as visiting research professor in the School of Psychology at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of The Forgotten Kin: Aunts and Uncles published by Cambridge University Press in 2010, and editor of the Family Studies Textbook Series published by Routledge. Commentaries on family issues have appeared in Psychology Today, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today and a variety of local and regional media. Bob lives in rural Maine with his partner Dr. Renate Klein, two cats, Bea and Smoke, and a very large stack of wood.

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