“Generally speaking, ostracism refers to being ignored and excluded (Williams, 1997;2001). Social exclusion refers to not being included within a given social network (but not necessarily ignored). Rejection is usually an explicit verbal or physical action that declares that the individual is not wanted as a member within a relationship or group. Bullying usually involves others’ aversive focus on an individual, and often is accompanied by physical, verbal and nonverbal abuse of an individual.”
[Kipling D. Williams Joseph P. Forgas William Von Hippellisa Zadro in The Social Outcast)
Continuing on with my research proposal for grad school, and stumbled upon a book, The Social Outcast. I thought I’d share the above quote from the book as I think it highlights a range of possible experiences of family estrangement and further exposes gaps in our understanding and conversations about defining the experience of estrangement.
It’s my experience that family estrangement may indeed include ostracism, social (and obviously familial) exclusion (with or without being formerly “estranged”), rejection and bullying. It may also be any combination of the above. Regardless of finer details, all the above methods or means of separating self or others has profound impact for those who experience it.
The aforementioned book addresses social exclusion as a relatively new and under-researched area and addresses the emotional and psychological toll of rejection. The book does not specifically deal with familial exclusion, aka family estrangement, however, those with an academic bent and willingness to wade through research articles may find it worthy of exploring.