Aunting in the network of family relations and practices. An analysis of the scientific literature


  • Katarzyna Dębska Uniwersytet SWPS, Poland



aunting, family practices, kin work, nephews, nieces, fictive kin, extended kin


Relationships between women and children are too often reduced to mother-child relationships. Despite the recognition of the multidimensionality of the concept of family, sociology is still dominated by the focus on relationships between parents and children, and intimate couples. Meanwhile, motherhood is not the only experience and pattern of close relationships between women and children. One of these other experiences is aunting. Based on an analysis of the literature on aunting, I point out ways of defining who an aunt is and who can become one, as well as what expectations are imposed on her. I discuss family practices and the forms of aunts’ presence in relationships with nieces and nephews: including relational work, care work, supporting them in crisis situations, modelling behaviour and aunts’ rejection of maternal norms of care and sacrifice I also analyse the meanings for aunts and nieces and nephews of the existence of relationships with each other. Aunting offers insights into non-maternal relationships between women and children, in which both parties can retain their agency.


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How to Cite

Dębska, K. (2024). Aunting in the network of family relations and practices. An analysis of the scientific literature. Przegląd Socjologiczny, 73(2), 141–156.