Journal article

Family Secrets and the Slow Violence of Social Stigma

Ashley Barnwell

Sociology | SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD | Published : 2019


This article uses Rob Nixon’s theory of ‘slow violence’ to examine how families keep secrets to manage stigma over time. In an age driven by hurriedness and distraction, Nixon calls for scholars to attend to the uneventful injustices that slip beneath the radar, dismissed or postponed. While his concept addresses environmental pollution, I argue that it is also relevant to the temporal dimensions of other sociological problems. To understand the social causes and impacts of family secrets I apply the concept of slow violence to qualitative survey responses collected from nonprofessional family historians in 2016. Bringing Nixon’s idea to family secrets, I argue, exposes how stigma – as an of..

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