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Caroline Sanner

Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor

Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor
Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor

Department of Human Development and Family Science
358 Wallace Hall
295 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-4796 | csanner@vt.edu

Caroline Sanner is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Virginia Tech.

Families are increasingly diverse and complex, and my research explores how families navigate that complexity. For example, how do family members develop and maintain relationships across family structure transitions (e.g., divorce, remarriage)? How do family members adjust to new roles (e.g., coparent, stepparent, ex-stepgrandparent) and make meaning of family experiences? In addition to exploring family-level processes, I’m also interested in how families are differentially impacted by social structures and institutions. For example, how do our laws, policies, and systems benefit some family forms to the disadvantage and exclusion of others? How do cultural messages about parenting, gender, and family status (e.g., biological, step) differentially shape family members’ experiences? My work has been published in family science journals including Journal of Marriage and FamilyJournal of Family Theory and Review, Journal of Family Psychology, and Family Relations.

  • Family structure transitions (e.g., divorce, remarriage)
  • Family processes (e.g., relationship development, social construction of kinship)  
  • Resilience and functionality in complex families
  • Feminist family studies
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, 2018
  • M.S. in Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, 2016
  • B.S. in Human Development and Family Science, University of Missouri, 2013
  • Co-founder and Co-chair, Diverse Family Structures NCFR Focus Group
  • Member, National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
  • Member, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD)

Journal Articles

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2020). Families are socially constructed: Pragmatic implications for researchers. Journal of Family Issues. doi:10.1177/0192513X20905334 [Advanced online publication]

Sanner, C., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2020). Shared children in stepfamilies: Experiences living in a hybrid family structure. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82, 605–621. doi:10.1111/jomf.12631

Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Chapman, A., & Coleman, M. (2020). Stepparents’ attachment style, parental gatekeeping, and stepparents’ affinity-seeking with stepchildren. Family Process, 59, 756-771doi:10.1111/famp.12448

Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Russell, L, Chapman, A., & Coleman, M. (2019). Linking stepfamily functioning, marital quality, and step-relationship quality. Family Relations, 68, 469-483doi:10.1111/fare.12380

Ganong, L., Jensen, T., Sanner, C., Russell, L., & Coleman, M. (2019). Stepfathers’ affinity-seeking with stepchildren, stepfather-stepchild relationship quality, marital quality, and stepfamily cohesion among stepfathers and mothers. Journal of Family Psychology22, 521-531.

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Chapman, A., & Kang, Y. (2019). Building family relationships with inherited stepgrandparents. Family Relations, 68, 484-499. doi:10.1111/fare.12381

Ganong L., Russell, L., Sanner, C., Chapman, A., Ko, K., & Coleman, M. (2019). Responsibility inferences and judgments about helping older parents and stepparents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36, 2268–2286. doi:10.1177/0265407518786808

Sanner, C., Russell, L., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Half- and stepsibling relationships: A systemic integrative review. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10, 755-784. doi:10.1111/jftr.12291

Sanner, C., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Relationships with former stepgrandparents after remarriage dissolution. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 251-261. doi:10.1037/fam0000377 

Chapman, A., Kang, Y., Ganong, L., Sanner, C., Coleman, M. (2018). A comparison of stepgrandchildren’s perceptions of long-term and later-life stepgrandparents, Journal of Aging Studies, 47, 104-113. doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2018.03.005

Sanner, C., & Coleman, M. (2017). (Re)constructing family images: Stepmotherhood before biological motherhood.Journal of Marriage and Family79, 1462-1477. doi:10.1111/jomf.12428 

Chapman, A., Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Russell, L., Kang, Y., & Mitchell, S. (2016). Exploring the complexity of stepgrandparent-stepgrandchild relationships. Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, 10, 101-130, doi:10.1108/S1530-353520160000010005.

Chapman, A., Kang, Y., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Sanner, C., & Russell, L. (2016). Negotiating a place in the family: A grounded theory exploration of stepgrandmothers’ enactment of roles. The Gerontologist, 1, 1-10, doi:10.1093/geront/gnw112 

Book Chapters

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2019). Remarriage. In J.J. Ponzetti, Jr. (Ed.), Macmillan Encyclopedia of Families, Marriages, and Intimate Relationships, Vol. 2, 738-742. 

Ganong, L., Sanner, C., & Coleman, M. (2019). Divorce and stepgrandparents. In C. Fruehauf & B. Hayslip (Eds.), Handbook of grandparenting: The changing dynamics of family relationships (pp. 111-130). NY: Springer. 

Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Sanner, C. (2019). Divorced and remarried parenting. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of Parenting. Vol. 3. Being and Becoming a Parent (3rd ed., pp. 311-344). New York: Routledge, 2019. doi:10.4324/978042943321

Sanner, C., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Remarriage. In Sage Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development, M. Bornstein (Ed.), pp 1841-1843. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage.  

Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Sanner, C. (2018). Stepfamilies. In Sage Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development, M. Bornstein (Ed.), pp 2139-2143. Thousand Oak, CA: Sage.

Coleman, M., Ganong, L., & Sanner, C. (2016). Famiglie ricomposte (Exploring stepfamilies: A journey). In M. Accordini (Ed.). Milan, Italy: FrancoAngeli.

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