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Platonic parents: some preliminary findings and methodological reflections

posted on 2023-06-08, 21:50 authored by Philip Bremner
'Platonic parenting', also known as 'poly-parenting', refers to people who, either as individuals or couples, choose to raise children with someone else with whom they are not in an intimate relationship. This paper discusses an ongoing PhD research project which investigates the legal recognition of 'platonic parenting' within the LGBT community. The project compares the legal response to 'platonic parenting' in the UK and certain jurisdictions in Canada (namely British Columbia and Ontario) because of the divergent approach each jurisdiction takes to this issue. The current paper will focus on some of the preliminary findings resulting from the UK empirical study, which is nearing completion, as well as highlighting some methodological challenges that the study has faced. The UK empirical study involved a combination of telephone and face-to-face interviews (approximately 12 in total) with adults who are or have considered raising children in this way as well as professionals (such as solicitors and fertility counsellors) who have experience of working with these families. Although the analysis of the results from this study is still at a very preliminary stage, several key findings have emerged. For example, both professional participants and people engaged in raising children in this way have highlighted the importance of clearly discussing expectations prior to birth and have emphasised the way that written agreements can achieve this despite being non-binding. Another important observation that a number of participants have made is the need for greater social (and legal) debate on this issue, which this project hopes to contribute to, as well as raising awareness of the legal issues faced by these families, not least among people considering parenting in this way. Finally, the paper will reflect on some methodological challenges the study has had to overcome, including the creative recruitment strategies necessary to recruit a sample from this hard-to-access group, whether to conduct joint or individual interviews and how to navigate issues of client confidentiality when interviewing solicitors and fertility counsellors. One of the issues this study has faced, as many small-scale qualitative studies do, has been deciding how many interviews would be enough to answer the research questions. Recent methodological literature, however, suggests that the number of interviews is not as important as the quality of analysis in terms of the specific research question. Therefore, this paper will reflect on the sample size as well as the quality of the data gathered during the interviews.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference

Event location

University of York

Event type


Event date

26-28 March 2013

Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • No

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