Intergenerational Solidarity and Ambivalence: Types of Relationships in German Families

By Steinbach, Anja | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Intergenerational Solidarity and Ambivalence: Types of Relationships in German Families


Steinbach, Anja, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


INTRODUCTION

The demographic aging of western societies--with characteristics such as increasing life expectancy and decreasing birth rate--has lead to an increasing significance of vertical relationships in the family system (Bengtson, 2001). Intergenerational relationships in families endure longer than in any other historical period. But the extended life time shared by parents and children is not only an opportunity but also a risk for the arrangement of their relationship. Characteristics of industrial societies such as high mobility, high rates of employed women (including mothers), and increasing divorce rates, which lead to an increasing heterogeneity of family forms, challenge the cohesion of the family. The empirical results based on the model of intergenerational solidarity (Bengtson, 2001; Bengtson and Roberts, 1991; Bengtson and Harootyan, 1994) show that regardless of all these transitions in the structure and functions of families in the last decades, multigenerational bonds are still important: family ties are still strong and the exchange of support among family members is significant. In recent years, the theoretical model of intergenerational solidarity has been challenged by other theoretical approaches to arrangements of intergenerational relations mainly because its perspective was regarded as being too normative. In particular, the model of intergenerational ambivalence (Luscher and Pillemer, 1998; see also Pillemer and Luscher, 2004), proposes an alternative to the solidarity model. Meanwhile, a good many publications elaborate the theoretical concept and the empirical measurements of ambivalence in intergenerational relationships (e.g., Connidis and McMullin, 2002a, 2002b; Curran, 2002; Fingerman, Hay and Birditt, 2004; Wilson, Shuey and Elder, 2003; Van Gaalen and Dykstra, 2006). The crucial question is how positive and negative aspects of family relations can be captured simultaneously. The central aim of this paper is to combine the new theoretical assumptions of intergenerational ambivalence with the concept of intergenerational solidarity on the basis of the German data from the cross-cultural 'Value of Children and Intergenerational Relations'-Study (in short: VOC). Thus, a short overview of both theoretical concepts is given in the first part of the paper. Then a method section follows in which sample, data, and instruments are introduced and first descriptive results are presented. In the third part the results of multivariate models regarding the relation of indicators of ambivalence and solidarity are presented. The paper ends with a short summary of the main results.

THEORETICAL MODELS OF INTERGENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Both the theory of intergenerational solidarity and the theory of intergenerational ambivalence focus on relationships between adult children and their (older) parents. However, they capture arrangements of intergenerational relations from different perspectives. While the solidarity concept pays attention to a precise mapping of the dimensions of intergenerational relations, the ambivalence concept concentrates on the question under which conditions parents and children feel torn and how they deal with such feelings.

Theory of Intergenerational Solidarity

The theory of intergenerational solidarity was developed by Bengtson and colleagues (Bengtson, Olander and Haddad, 1976; for an overview see Bengtson, 2001). Intergenerational family solidarity is a multifaceted, multidimensional construct reflected in six distinct dimensions of parent-child interaction (Bengtson and Roberts, 1991: 856f.): Structural solidarity is the opportunity structure for intergenerational relationships reflected in number, type, and geographic proximity of family members. Associational solidarity means the frequency and patterns of interaction in various types of activities in which family members engage. Affectual solidarity is the type and degree of (positive) sentiments held towards family members, and the degree of reciprocity of these sentiments. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Intergenerational Solidarity and Ambivalence: Types of Relationships in German Families
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.