Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Chiara Saraceno
Introduction: Intergenerational Relations in Families – A Micro-Macro Perspective
Chiara Saraceno PREMISE Intergenerational relations in society and in families are at the core of both continuity and change in the sense that successive generations and cohorts enter social and family systems that have been shaped by preceding generations, and then in their turn reshape them. Intergenerational relations in families are a crucial vehicle for the reproduction of norms and social values. They are also a crucial vehicle for the reproduction of social stratiﬁcation. Thus, intergenerational relationships should be an important focus of sociological analysis, bridging the micro level of family interactions with the meso and macro levels of social institutions and change. Intergenerational relationships in families have gained the attention of European sociology research only relatively recently, notwithstanding pioneering studies, such as those of Willmott and Young (1964) in the UK and Agnes Pitrou (1977) in France, that showed the importance of kinship ties. Interest in intergenerational relationships as such developed earlier and more systematically in the US, where the focus on the experience of the elderly oﬀered a critical and contrasting view of the family to that shaped by the Parsonsian vision of the isolated nuclear family (e.g., Sussman and Burchinal 1962). As early as 1993, Bengtson and Achenbaum’s important compiled volume mapped out some of the most salient issues posed by ageing societies with regard to intergenerational relations in families and societies.1 For the past two decades, European research has been catching up, however, and from a very early stage has adopted a comparative perspective....