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Beyond the Nuclear Family: Families in a Configurational Perspective


Eric Widmer and Riitta Jallinoja

The importance of significant family contexts that are not easily circumscribed with reference to a household or a limited set of family roles has been underlined throughout the last two decades by researchers. A strong interest for family relationships beyond the nuclear family has emerged in the social sciences. The various contributions to this book develop a configurational approach to families, which emphasizes interdependencies existing among large numbers of family members, and reconsiders some of the central issues of family life in this light: fertility projects, childcare and socialization, monetary transfers across generations and support for the elderly, relationships with grandparents, uncles, aunts and in-laws, gender inequalities, divorce and other family disruptions, and the importance of friends and acquaintances for families. Beyond very real changes affecting the structures of family life since the sixties, the book reveals that basic forms of togetherness still underlie much of what is going on in family configurations.
Contents: Eric D. Widmer/Anna-Maija Castrén/Riitta Jallinoja/Kaisa Ketokivi: Introduction – Ulla Björnberg/Hans Ekbrand: Configuration of Family Commitments: Patterns of Support Within Kin – Marianne Kempeneers/Nicolas Thibault: Strategies of Childcare and the Dynamics of Family Configurations – Blanche Le Bihan/Claude Martin: Caring for Dependent Elderly Parents and Family Configurations – Cornelia Hummel: «Grandma, Grandpa, the Miles and Me.» Intergenerational Relationships in a Migration Context – Riitta Jallinoja: Togetherness and Being Together. Family Configurations in the Making – Robert M. Milardo: A Configuration of Family Relationships: Aunts and Nieces, Uncles and Nephews – Jennifer Mason/Becky Tipper: Children and the Making of Kinship Configurations – Nicolas Jonas/Marie-Clémence Le Pape: My Own Relatives or My Partner’s Relatives? A Configurational Approach of Kinship Prioritization – Laura Bernardi/Anna Oppo: Female-Centered Family Configurations and Fertility – Karin Wall/Sofia Aboim/Sofia Marinho: Family Configurations from the Male Perspective: Exploring Diversity over the Life Course – Anna-Maija Castrén: Post-Divorce Family Configurations – Kaisa Ketokivi: Biographical Disruption, the Wounded Self, and the Reconfiguration of Significant Others – Eric D. Widmer/Marlène Sapin: Families on the Move. Insights on Family Configurations of Individuals. Undergoing Psychotherapy – Marlène Sapin/Eric D. Widmer/Catalina Radulescu: Social Isolation or Relational Instability? Family Configurations of Women at Risk of Child Abandonment – Rossana Trifiletti: Paid and Unpaid Caregivers: How Damaged Family Configurations May Be Enforced or Reconstituted – David H. J. Morgan: Acquaintances: Their Position within Webs of Relationships – Catherine Bonvalet/Eva Lelièvre: Entourage: A Web of Relationships in Reference Spaces – Eric D. Widmer/Riitta Jallinoja: Afterthoughts.