A new look at grandparenting

Sara Arber and Virpi Timonen

in Contemporary grandparenting

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429681
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307624 | DOI:
A new look at grandparenting

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This introductory chapter of Contemporary Grandparenting provides an overview of the main themes, arguments and frameworks that research on grandparents has yielded, highlighting how the book addresses lacunae in the literature and engages with new/poorly understood aspects of grandparenthood. The chapter outlines the key recent changes in the demographic, socioeconomic, family and social policy contexts that frame grandparenthood. Key concepts and frameworks (solidarity, conflict and ambivalence) that are discussed and advanced in Contemporary Grandparenting are introduced in this chapter. Research on how grandparenting practices vary by gender, lineage, age, marital status, grandchild characteristics and geographical distance is summarised. Typologies of grandparenting styles are outlined. Research that has approached family relations through focus on intergenerational transfers (of time, money, practical assistance) is briefly discussed. The strong emphasis on the middle generation that emerges from earlier literature is synopsised. The chapter concludes by arguing that the role of grandparents in 21st-century families is more multidimensional, complex and dynamic than it has been in earlier periods in history. Grandparents are a heterogeneous group, and important differences persist between cultural and welfare state contexts in how grandparenthood is constructed and enacted. The nature of grandparenting is evolving in response to external demands from families and economies, but also in accordance with grandparents’ own choices.

Keywords: Demography; Longevity; Generations; Solidarity; Conflict; Ambivalence; Intergenerational transfers; Grandparenting styles; Middle generation; Agency

Chapter.  8715 words. 

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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