Winter 2014 Research & Theory Section update

by Joyce A. Arditti, section chair

Greetings from the Research and Theory (RT) Section! We hope everyone enjoyed the 2014 conference in Baltimore. A theme for RT this year involved collaborations in programming that included a special session on "Indigenous Justice," cosponsored with the Family Policy (FP) Section and Virginia Tech. Our collaboration with FP extended into our RT annual section meeting: We welcomed FP Section members and NCFR Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Crosswhite to discuss both Sections' role in the development of the research and policy briefs that will be published by NCFR. RT also collaborated with the Religion and Family Life Section on a lightning session and cosponsored two separate roundtables with the Family Health and the Feminism and Family Studies sections. We were also very pleased to welcome sociologist John Hagan (Northwestern University) to NCFR (at a special session cosponsored with the Theory Construction/Research Methodology Workshop) to discuss the children's rights and the family experience of parental incarceration.

I hope that our spirit of collaboration will extend into the next year. Excellence in research and theory is increasingly a collaborative and interdisciplinary endeavor. As we learned in our "dual section" meeting in Baltimore with our FP colleagues, cross-fertilization promotes new ideas and problem solving. Similarly, society's most critical problems require diverse disciplines and perspectives to foster dialogue and understanding.

I am particularly excited about our 2015 conference theme next year: "Conflict, Violence, and War: Family Risks and Resilience" because it necessitates an interdisciplinary sensibility given the profound and global scope of violence within and outside of families. War and terrorism are exerting an increasing influence on the world, and our conference theme asks scholars to consider how these, as well as other forms of mass violence, influence families and communities. Family science has much to offer with regard to shaping the research agenda and responding to the needs of families and youth affected by mass violence, given our ecologically rich theoretical traditions that highlight human agency and resilience. Mass violence poses threats to families, and these same families affect the environments in which they live. In examining how conflict, violence, and war affect the health and well-being of families and communities we must also consider the ways in which these same families transcend adversity and forge meaningful and functional lives.

With these thoughts in mind, we invite you to submit a conference proposal to the RT Section for the 2015 conference. Your proposal might investigate how contexts of war and violence influence family functioning and youth outcomes, as well as how families define their experience or seek innovative solutions to their problems. We hope to see proposals that apply existing theory to the study of conflict and violence, or represent innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to studying family risk and resilience as they pertain to war, conflict, and related issues. "Wars" at home may not be as obvious as the ones overseas, and the conference theme suggests a host of related substantive areas of interest, such as research on social inequality (e.g., "the war on the poor"), marginalization processes, military families, and violence within families and communities.

Enjoy the upcoming winter holidays, and we look forward to seeing you in Vancouver!