Not only was the ‘spatial turn’ in US sociology delayed, it has only very recently reached scholarship on families (see Noah, 2015). In addition, the spatial currents in US sociology and family research emphasise different key concepts and questions than European scholarship. This contribution attempts to shed light on these distinct foci and illustrate the differences with the use of recent US work on space-sensitive topics in family research.
This chapter provides a selective overview of scholarship involving spatial concepts in American sociology, using a gender, work, and family intersections lens. It begins with a brief description of the spatial turn in US sociology in general and then presents space-sensitive research on ‘doing gender, work and family’ in terms of neighbourhood effects and parenting across time and space. In addition, research on multi-local relationships (long-distance relationships and transnational families) is discussed. Throughout, a special focus is on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) as a means of navigating across distance and borders. The contribution closes with suggestions for possible ways to narrow the conceptual and research gap between the US and Europe, and to chart a path for a fruitful exchange of ideas across the Atlantic.