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Caroline Sanner

Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor

Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor
Caroline Sanner, Assistant Professor and FS Coordinator

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 of family science at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on relationships and dynamics in post-divorce families and stepfamilies. She uses critical theories and qualitative methods to explore family processes such as coparenting; stepparenting; stepfamily formation; intergenerational relationship development; social constructions of kinship; emotion labor; conflict management; negotiations of power and control; and stepfamily dissolution. Her work also considers how complex families are impacted by culture and society. For example, how do our laws, policies, and institutions benefit some family structures (e.g., two-parent families) to the disadvantage and exclusion of other family forms? How do cultural messages about parenting, gender, and family status (e.g., biological, step) shape family members’ experiences? Dr. Sanner’s work has been published in family science journals including Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal 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)

Select Articles

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Berkley, S. (2022). Effective parenting in stepfamilies: Empirical evidence of what works. Family Relations, 71(3), 884-899. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12703

Jensen, T. M., & Sanner, C. (2021). A scoping review of research on well-being across diverse family structures: Rethinking approaches for understanding contemporary families. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 13, 463-495. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12437

Sanner, C., & Jensen, T. M. (2021). Towards more accurate measures of family structure: Accounting for sibling complexity. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 13(1), 110-127. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12406

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2021). Families are socially constructed: Pragmatic implications for researchers. Journal of Family Issues, 42, 422-444. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X20905334

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2020). Shared children in stepfamilies: Experiences living in a hybrid family structure. Journal of Marriage and Family, 82(2), 605–621. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12631

Sanner, C., Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Chapman, A., & Kang, Y. (2019). Building family relationships with inherited stepgrandparents. Family Relations, 68(4), 484-499. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12381  

Sanner, C., Russell, L. T., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Half- and stepsibling relationships: A systemic integrative review. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 10(4), 765-784. https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12291

Sanner, C., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2018). Relationships with former stepgrandparents after remarriage dissolution. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(2), 251-261. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000377

Sanner, C., & Coleman, M. (2017). (Re)constructing family images: Stepmotherhood before biological motherhood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 79(5), 1462-1477. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12428

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