Brannen (2003) 'Towards a Typology of Intergenerational
Relations: Continuities and Change in Families'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 8, no. 2, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/8/2/brannen.html>
To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary
Received: 16/12/2002 Accepted: 12/5/2003 Published: 31/05/2003
'Because transmission of sameness reifies the heir (treats him as an object), it seems to carry the kiss of death. To become the subject of the heritage, the heir must act upon it by leaving his or her mark upon it. ....The new element involving both the rejection of the past and innovation, enables the heir to take possession of something that actually was passed on to him. The point is not simply that he must 'make something of what was made of him' as Sartre put it so aptly, but that he make something of what has been passed on to him' (Bertaux and Bertaux-Wiame 1997, 93)
|Table 1: Men's Occupational Mobility over three generations (12 families)|
|Continuity of occupational status: low skilled
(3)||2 families of unskilled/ semi-skilled men|
1 family of self- employed family builders
|Continuity of occupational status: high skilled
(2)||1 family of senior managers/ managing directors|
1 family of electrical engineers (middle management level)
|Downward mobility in occupational status from skilled
to unskilled work (2)||1 family with a great grandfather in skilled work
and a son and grandson in semi-skilled work|
1 family with a great grandfather and grandfather in skilled work and a father (i.e son in law) in unskilled work
|Upward occupational mobility |
from skilled to professional/ managerial work (4)
|2 families of great grandfathers and
grandfathers in skilled work and a father in a managerial occupation; |
2 families of great grandfathers in manual/ clerical work and grandfathers in professional occupations
|Upward and downward occupational status (1)||1 family of a great grandfather in skilled manual work/shopkeeper, a grandfather a professional worker, a father (a son in law) in unskilled work|
'...socio-structural components may be found in those decisions and acts apparently most clearly powered by will.. the idea that a life trajectory may be determined - or rather, conditioned - much more easily by the supplying of a resource than by the imposition of a constraint lends an entirely new content to the concept of determination: one which includes both the socio-structural dimension and praxis'(p95). Thus, in so far as innovation takes place in families, I would suggest that it is useful to understand it in relation to the availability and deployment of new resources (for example of place, occupation, ideas), as it is also useful to examine how continuities in families are reproduced and limit change.
2 Grundy (1999) found in her analysis of the Omnibus Survey that with the exception of 50-59 year olds, close to three quarters of the sample was a member of a three generation family.
3 A third of those over 80 are members of four generation families as are a fifth of those aged 20-29 and 50-59 (Grundy 1999).
4 Footnote 9, p. 223 in chapter seven: Temporality and Process in Social Life in Andrew Abbott, Time Matters on Theory and Method, Chicago University Press 2001
5 We adopted the Biographic-Interpretive Narrative Interviewing approach (Wengraf 2001) with some adaptations. Following the method in the first part, respondents were invited to give an account of their lives from childhood onwards, with a minimum of guidance and intervention from the interviewer. This provided an opportunity for the respondent to present his or her own gestalt. In the second part , the interviewer invited the respondent to elaborate on salient events or experiences that had figured in the initial narrative. Third, using a more traditional semi-structured style of interview, the interviewer asked questions relating to the specific foci of the study if they had not already been covered in sufficient detail in the first two parts of the interview. This final phase also included the use of a vignette to explore normative views about parental employment and childcare relating to a contemporary situation of parenthood.
6 How the picture has changed from the 1970s is a matter of some debate. As Payne and Roberts (2002) suggest, opportunities for men fell while they increased for women especially during the 1990s.
7 Three families are clearly within this quadrant while a fourth family is somewhat marginal since the youngest generation had moved away from the region. The three generations in this family are however linked not only by similar occupational interests but by allegiance to a particular religious sect which is based in the city where the two older generations live. In terms of childcare support this grandmother acted in a very similar way to those who lived geographically close to their children. The family stayed 'close' in a number of ways.
8 Specific reciprocities involve exchanges between the same set of persons so that a grandmother who receives childcare from her mother when her children are young repays her mother when she required help in old age (Finch 1989).
9 The great grandfather was a self employed nurseryman and his son a draughtsman with both of them running their own businesses at some point.
10 This is a form of imbalanced or generalized reciprocity since repayment of the relevant individual is not (yet) involved (Finch 1989); however there is also evidence of specific reciprocity in this family in caring for the oldest generation who had helped the middle generation during childrearing.
11 He became an unskilled worker as did his own son also. However other members of the family are in skilled work and a daughter in the grandparent generation is married to a professional worker.
12 I have preferred this term to 'atomisation' which is applied in Luscher's explication of ambivalence (Luscher 2000)
13 The great grandmother towards the end of her working life became a clerical worker.
14 The grandfather uprooted his five children - including four teenage boys and took them to a part of the country where he had no work and no housing in order, he says, to get away from the dangerous influences of the inner city. All the family remained together and after many housing and job difficulties including one return to London they settled.
ALDRIDGE, S (2001) Social Mobility: A discussion paper, Cabinet Office: Performance and Innovation Unit.
ALLATT, P. (1993) 'Becoming privileged: the role of family processes', in I. Bates and G. Riseborough, Youth and Inequality, Buckingham: Open University Press.
BENGSTON, V.L 2001 Beyond the nuclear family: The increasing importance of multi-generational bonds, Journal of Marriage and the Family,63, 1-16.
BERNSTEIN, B (1996) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique. London: Taylor and Francis.
BERTAUX and BERTAUX-WIAME 1997 'Heritage and its lineage: A case history of transmission and social mobility over five generations in Bertaux B and Thompson P (eds) Pathways to social class: a qualitative approach to social mobility, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
BOURDIEU, P. (1986) 'The forms of capital', in J.E. Richardson (ed.) Handbook of Theory for Research in the Sociology of Education, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
BOURDIEU, P. and WACQUANT, L. (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, Cambridge: Polity Press.
BRANNEN, J, MOSS, P and MOONEY, A (2003) Care-giving and independence in four-generation families. In J Brannen and P Moss (eds) Rethinking children's Care, Buckingham: open University Press.
BRANNEN, J (forthcoming) Three generations of childhood: through women's eyes.
CORNWELL, J (1984) Hard-Earned Lives: accounts of heath and illness from East London, London: Tavistock.
CROW, G (2002) Social Solidarities: theories, identities and social change, Buckingham: Open University Press.
FINCH, J (1989) Family Obligations, Cambridge: Polity press.
GRUNDY, E, MURPHY, M and SHELTON, S (1999) Looking beyond the household: intergenerational perspectives on living kin and contacts with kin in Great Britain, Population Trends, 97, pp.19-27.
HARRIS, C C (1980) The changing relation between family and societal form in western society in M Anderson (ed.) Sociology of the Family, 2nd edition, Harmondworth: Penguin.
MANNHEIM, K (1952) Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
MASON, J 1999 Living away from relatives: kinship and geographical reasoning in S McRae (ed.) Changing Britain: Families and households in the 1990s Oxford: oxford University Press.
LUSCHER, K 2000 Ambivalence: A key concept for the study of intergenerational relations in S Trnka Family Issues between gender and generations: Seminar Report, Vienna: European Observatory on Family Matters.
LUSCHER, K and PILLEMER, K 1998 Intergenerational ambivalence: A new approach to the study of parent-child relations in later life, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 413-425.
GOLDTHORPE, J and MILLS, C 2000 Trends in intergenerational class mobility in the late twentieth century December (Working paper).
HEATH A and PAYNE C 2000 Social mobility in A H Halsey (ed.) with J Webb Twentieth Century British Social Trends, London: Macmillan.
PAYNE, G and ROBERTS, J (2002) Opening and closing the gates: recent developments in male social mobility in London, Sociological Research Online, 6, 4, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/4/payne.html>.
PERFORMANCE AND INNOVATION UNIT 2002, London: Cabinet Office.
ROSSER, , C and HARRIS, C (1965) The Family and Social Change, A study of family and kinship in a South Wales town, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (abridged edition).
ROSSI, A and ROSSI, P (1992) Of Human Bonding : Parent-child relations across the life course, NY : Aldine Gruyter.
WELLMAN, B and BERKOWITZ, S (1988) Communities in B Wellman and S Berkowitz (eds) Social Structures : A network analysis Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
WENGRAF, T 2001 Qualitative Research Interviewing: Biographic narrative and semi-structured methods, London: Sage.