Families and Societies Research Unit

About Us

FaSRU logoFaSRU, which started in 2015, is a new research unit that examines households, families and kinship from an inter-disciplinary perspective. The ‘family’ in South and Southern Africa is an institution undergoing rapid change, with implications for the distribution of income and access to livelihoods, care-giving, child-raising and health, intimacy and well-being, and social and political attitudes and behaviour. The new unit promotes research that links economic and social aspects of families and households and employs mixed methods combining qualitative and quantitative research. The unit aims to become a hub for research in the field of families, kinships and households in South and sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, it will strive to develop collaborative research projects with colleagues across The University of Cape Town and elsewhere. It will act as a resource for researchers in universities and NGOs through our seminars, conferences, publications. In doing so, we hope the new Unit will develop new directions in theorising contemporary family and personal life in South and sub-Saharan Africa.


Elena is sociologist, specialising in the sociology of the family with a Masters degree in Applied Social Research and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Sociology at UCT. She is m currently working on a project on Intergenerational Relationships in South Africa: A study of family responsibilities and obligations. She recently authored a book on Divorce, Families and Emotion Work (http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137438218#aboutBook ) and co-authored a book in 2015 on customary marriage, divorce and intestate succession (https://jutalaw.co.za/products/reform-of-customary-marriage-divorce-and-succession-in-south-africa). Her work has appeared in The Journal of Family Issues; Gender & Society; Families, Relationships and Societies and The Journal of Southern African Studies. Her principal research interests lie in the field of personal life, kinship, gender, intergenerational relations, customary law, family law and policy, feminist theories, biographical methods and mixed methods.