Abstract the post-conventional? Families, relationships, parenting and reproduction

Recent changes in the organization and moralization of personal life in Western societies have been theorized through the concepts of ‘the post-traditional’ or the ‘post-conventional’, which refer to a society characterized by greater individualization, consumer choice and a lack of a consistent framework of substantive norms and moral principles. Late capitalism has witnessed significant transformations of the intimate life and diversification of the ways in which relationships are constituted (living together unmarried, polyamorous relationships, LGBT relationships, living alone, mail-order brides…), cohabitation is organized (communes, cohousing, kangaroo housing…) and families are formed (ART, surrogacy, marriage migration, transnational adoption, transnational parenting, blended families, single parenthood, co-parenting, foster families,…).

However, how post-conventional is the post-conventional? Who has the power/privilege to be part of this post-conventional realm, and who/which practices are relegated to the realm of ‘the traditional’? Is the idea of the post-conventional predominantly a Western, white and middle class construct? Is the post-conventional merely a ‘going beyond’ the normative heterosexual nuclear family? If that is the case, how are (new and not so new) networks of care and support among members of lower social classes constructed and understood? Are ways of family-building among ethnic-cultural minorities (such as polygamous marriage, international families, mati-work…) part of the post-conventional, or not? How are new (and not so new) ways of religious cohabitation (communes, monasteries) included or excluded from the post-conventional, and why?

In short, this meeting wants to explore through various disciplinary perspectives and approaches the ways in which ethnocentric and objectivist scientized language obfuscates moral assumptions and socio-economic, raced, gendered, religious/secular, and aged, unequal power relations (and legitimize increased policy intervention in the personal lives of target groups)? In what ways do new (or not so new) types of relationships of love and care, (co)habitation and building households challenge (or reproduce) normative assumptions of relationships, family, kinship and (national) belonging? To what extent do they succeed to expand definitions of relationships, families, households and communities and what are the new exclusions, inequalities and moral dilemmas they create? How do different disciplinary perspectives and approaches, such as sociology, anthropology, ethics and law allow us to reveal what is at stake in the post-conventional?