Intimate encounters: the negotiation of difference within the family and its implications for social relations in public space

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Sheffield University


This paper focuses on the neglected issue of encounters with difference within the context of family life at a moment in time when families are increasingly characterised by dissimilarity as a product of mobility and individualisation. The study upon which this paper is based involved both a survey of social attitudes (survey n = 3021) and qualitative multi-stage research (n = 60). The evidence of the findings is that intra-familial diversity does produce more positive attitudes in public life towards the specific social group that an individual family member is perceived to represent. However, such positive attitudes are not translated beyond this specific ‘difference’ to challenge wider prejudices towards other groups. As such, this research contributes to literatures on geographies of encounter and the geographies of family life by exposing the limits of intimate contact with difference in changing the way social relationships are lived in the wider world.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-294
JournalGeographical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2014


  • family , encounter , difference , intimacy , prejudics , contact