Social Relations and the Life Course by Graham Allan, Gill Jones (eds.)

By Graham Allan, Gill Jones (eds.)

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As we have demonstrated elsewhere (Holland et al. 1999), growing up and becoming adult is shaped by the continuing relevance of ‘family’ relationships to the lives and experiences of young people. In sharp contrast to the assertions made by individualization theorists, that weakened social ties are the inevitable feature of late modernity, we have emphasized the relational, interconnected nature of young people’s understandings. According to Hareven (1978), the life course approach can enable an analysis of collective as well as individual development, shifting emphasis away from ages and stages, towards a focus on how individuals and families move through transitions.

There is therefore considerable potential for individuals to be affected by intergenerational transfers. The types of transfers between generations include: • care for children and grandchildren; • informal care for frail, sick or disabled relatives, including personal care, emotional support and practical help with domestic work, shopping, gardening, decorating, transport and organizing finances/paying bills; • financial support in the form of gifts of money, housing or goods, and inheritance; • co-residence – which may embrace some or all of the above.

Parents described how they were still able to enjoy cuddling their children (daughters in the main), and how they expected to retain a strong emotional bond with them throughout their lives. For example, Christine explained how her relationship with her daughter had remained close: We’re close, there’s a lot of physical contact, yes. She still will, um, she quite surprises me sometimes when we’re out, and she will … like when we go up to London, she’ll quite often hold my hand when we’re going, looking for, you know, going through the Underground, looking at all the maze of tunnels and where we should be, and she’ll quite often hold my hand, still.

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Social Relations and the Life Course by Graham Allan, Gill Jones (eds.)
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