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Intergenerational relations

Intergenerational relations: European perspectives on family and society

Isabelle Albert
Dieter Ferring
Copyright Date: 2013
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  • Book Info
    Intergenerational relations
    Book Description:

    Population ageing today affects most industrialised countries, and it will have an impact on many facets of the social system. Intergenerational relationships will play a key role in dealing with the demographical and societal change. This book provides innovative views in the multidisciplinary research field of intergenerational family relations in society, with a focus on Europe. Different, but complementary, perspectives are integrated in one volume bringing together international scholars from sociology, psychology and economics. The book's chapters are grouped into three thematic sections which cover conceptual issues, multigenerational and cross-cultural perspectives, as well as applied issues. Implications for research, policy and practice are addressed and suggestions for future directions are discussed. By raising recent discussions on controversial issues, this book will stimulate the current discourse at various levels. Intergenerational relations in society and family will be equally interesting for researchers, advanced-level students and stakeholders in the fields of social policy, population ageing and intergenerational family relationships.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0099-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Isabelle Albert and Dieter Ferring

    Intergenerational relations have gained a prominent place in the public discourse and in social science research in the last years. This is, at least partly, due to the drastic socio-demographic changes related to falling fertility rates and higher life expectancies in many countries all over the world (UNFPA, 2011), which have had significant consequences for relations between generations in society and families. The most obvious impact of these developments on families is probably that it is now more likely that family members of different generations will live contemporaneously and spend an increased amount of life time together (see, for example,...

  6. Part I: Conceptual issues regarding intergenerational relations

    • ONE Demographic ageing, labour market regulation and intergenerational relations
      (pp. 15-24)
      Amílcar Moreira

      Since the 1980s, in the United States there has been a debate as to the implications of demographic ageing for the nature and extent of the welfare state (see Kohli, 2005). This debate was triggered by the claim – raised by Preston (1984) and others – that, in a context of economic scarcity, older people consume a disproportionate share of public resources (on pensions, healthcare and care services), and that this is done at the expense of the younger generations. This, according to Turner (1989, p 591), will generate a ‘politics of resentment’ against older people.

      While it has produced...

    • TWO Intergenerational solidarity in families: interplay between the family and the state
      (pp. 25-38)
      Kairi Kasearu and Dagmar Kutsar

      In recent years, the issue of intergenerational solidarity and relations between generations has gained a lot of attention in academic spheres (for example, Albertini et al, 2007; Saraceno, 2008). The interest of scholars has emerged in response to demographic changes (such as longevity, decreased fertility) and initiated from public concern. This is a broad research area and contains different levels, ranging from intergenerational family relations at the micro level to the wide spectrum of relations between generations at the macro level. However, these two levels are closely related: intergenerational relations within families are formed and shaped by the cultural context...

    • THREE Intergenerational ambivalence: beyond solidarity and conflict
      (pp. 39-64)
      Kurt Lüscher and Andreas Hoff

      Intergenerational family and kin relationships have increasingly become a focus of social science research since the 1980s. There are several reasons for this development, with the most frequently mentioned reason being demographic change. Changes in population structure, however, are embedded in broader social, economic and cultural changes and therefore specific attention should be paid to intergenerational relationships in family and society (as the title of this book suggests). However, these changes do not follow a linear trajectory. On the contrary, there are multiple contradictions and distortions that also refer to the meanings commonly ascribed to intergenerational relations. To put it...

    • FOUR Intergenerational policy and the study of intergenerational relationships: a tentative proposal
      (pp. 65-82)
      Kurt Lüscher

      In this chapter a proposal to conceptualise the idea of ‘intergenerational policy’ will be submitted for discussion.¹ This is an idea that has recently been referred to in scholarly as well as in political writings, mostly with the reservation that it needs further clarification. It has to be understood that, given their fundamental importance for social and individual development, intergenerational relations are likely to have been institutionalised early in human history. This may have been the case, initially being seen as customs and practices, but then also becoming formulated law as states began to emerge. Thus seen, the phenomenon of...

  7. Part II: Multigenerational and cross-cultural perspectives

    • FIVE Intergenerational congruence of attachment: limitations of findings
      (pp. 85-100)
      Katarzyna Lubiewska

      Even though global processes currently taking place in Western cultures involve major changes in the family domain, including progressing individualisation and loosening of family ties, it is unquestionable that emotional security is and will be in the future the key dimension of the individuals’ and family well-being (Kapella et al, 2011). Attachment offers probably the best framework to describe how this emotional security develops and is transmitted across generations, both with regard to a romantic love (Shaver and Mikulincer, 2007) and intergenerational relations (Bowlby, 1969).

      Up to date, attachment has been extensively proved to be intergenerationally transmitted in terms of...

    • SIX Value transmission between parents and their adolescent children: the process and its outcomes. A psycho-social perspective
      (pp. 101-118)
      Daniela Barni, Rosa Rosnati and Sonia Ranieri

      Continuity of cultures over generations is affected by cultural transmission. On one hand, stability of the culture is linked to cultural anchorage and collective memory while, on the other, its evolution is elicited by adaptation to changing economic, social or technological dimensions of the environment (Trommsdorff, 2009).

      The intergenerational transmission of culture refers to the way values, knowledge and practices that are prevalent in one generation are shared with the next generation. Earlier generations are responsible for the mental and physical conditions in which later generations are raised (Cigoli and Scabini, 2006). In this process, the family is the most...

    • SEVEN Value orientations and perception of social change in post-communist Romania
      (pp. 119-130)
      Mihaela Friedlmeier and Alin Gavreliuc

      For more than four decades, people of Central and Eastern Europe were subject to close supervision, suppression of initiative and of freedom of choice, paternalism, sanctioning of disobedience and rewards unrelated to effort and performance (Schwartz and Bardi, 1997). The collapse of communism came as a psychological shock. The extent of this, however, was difficult to evaluate due to its scale and a lack of comparative indices. Within a relatively short period of time, new laws, new institutions and a new economic system started to be implemented, creating an environment which was hard to control. Compared to younger, post-transition generations...

    • EIGHT Intergenerational conflict: the case of adult children and their parents
      (pp. 131-146)
      Beate Schwarz

      Conflict between parents and their children has been intensively investigated in adolescence. According to individuation theory (for example, Grotevant and Cooper, 1986), across adolescence the parent–child relationship changes towards a less hierarchical relationship. Therefore, parents and adolescents have to find a new balance between their need for connectedness and adolescents’ growing need for autonomy. Especially in early adolescence, the negotiation of this task leads to heightened conflict (Smetana et al, 2006). Thus, conflict is a means to change the relationship and to negotiate questions of dependence and independence. It was assumed that at the end of adolescence a new...

    • NINE Grandparent–grandchild relations in a changing society: different types and roles
      (pp. 147-166)
      Isabelle Albert and Dieter Ferring

      In the past, grandparents have often been depicted in rather stereotypical ways by giving them characteristics that are presumably related to old age (for instance, as in children’s books showing them with grey hair and wearing glasses, see Sciplino et al, 2010), but these descriptions are far from reflecting the actual socio-demographics of grandparenthood. Currently, however, it seems that the public image of grandparents is changing, as a look at the flourishing market of guidebooks for today’s ‘modern’ grandparents might illustrate (see, for example, Kornhaber, 2002; Witkin, 2012). These publications – often authored by scholars who are grandparents themselves –...

    • TEN Family change theory: a preliminary evaluation on the basis of recent cross-cultural studies
      (pp. 167-188)
      Boris Mayer

      Family change theory (Kagitcibasi, 1996, 2007) is an approach which can be used to explain how modernisation and globalisation processes affect the family. The most important assumption of the theory is that when traditional interdependent cultures modernise, they need not necessarily develop in the direction of the independent family model typical of Western individualistic societies. Instead, they may develop towards afamily model of emotional interdependencethat combines continuing emotional interdependencies in the family with declining material interdependencies and with rising personal autonomy. In this chapter a preliminary evaluation of the empirical status of family change theory is given based...

  8. Part III: Applied issues and practical focus

    • ELEVEN How does family sociology contribute to the definition and measurement of a concept of family care for elderly persons?
      (pp. 191-204)
      Amandine J. Masuy

      The determinants of informal care and its sustainability over time represent an important research question in the ageing society of today given that population ageing has become an urgent topic on the agenda of most West-European countries (Ferring, 2010). As recent studies have shown, the challenge will be to meet the increasing demand for elderly care with a shrinking health budget (Spillman and Pezzin, 2000; Rodrigues and Schmidt, 2010; see also Chapter Twelve). Against this background, the family is increasingly important in providing the necessary – and less cost-intensive – care if the sustainability of public financing is challenged.


    • TWELVE Intergenerational solidarity in an ageing society: socio-demographic determinants of intergenerational support to elderly parents
      (pp. 205-222)
      Susana Coimbra, Luísa A. Ribeiro and Anne Marie Fontaine

      Over the last years, demographic and social changes in Western societies have led to changes in family relationships. Particularly in Europe, we have been supporting the development of welfare states which promote the survival of the most vulnerable and dependent, such as the elderly. However, a decrease in birth rates and increase in longevity have increased the imbalance between those who support the welfare system (active population) and those who only benefit from it (inactive population). The current worldwide financial crisis is likely to further enhance competition between generations for scarce resources and services. On the one hand, increasing longevity...

    • THIRTEEN Family caregiving for older people from a life-span developmental point of view
      (pp. 223-240)
      Thomas Boll and Dieter Ferring

      This chapter addresses family care as an important phenomenon in inter- and intragenerational relations, which will become increasingly important in Europe given the current demographic changes (see Ferring, 2010). Age-related diseases, functional declines, and inabilities to perform daily activities are ‘normal’ parts of the later life of many older people. Family members are then among the most important providers of care, in particular spouses and adult children (for example, Wolff and Kasper, 2006). Emerging impairments and the subsequent need for care are likely to initiate a change in the prior marital or child–parent relationship as well as in the...

  9. Where do we go from here? An epilogue concerning the importance of solidarity between generations
    (pp. 241-244)
    Dieter Ferring and Isabelle Albert

    At the present time, the projected scenarios of how Europe may develop in the future do not appear to be very promising. All the chapters in this book start with the observation of demographic and social change due to a continuously increasing life expectancy and a continuously decreasing fertility rate in the majority of European countries. All of the authors go on to explain that these changes will challenge societies at several levels of the socio-ecological context. The sustainability and distribution of public resources in various domains will be affected by these changes at the societal level, and this may...

  10. Index
    (pp. 245-254)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)