Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN13_06a_P: Cultural Understandings of Family
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Claude Martin, CNRS
Session Chair: Helene Oldrup, SFI
Location: PC.3.19
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Changing Meanings of Family in Personal Relationships: A Cross-National Comparative Perspective

Karin Wall1, Rita Gouveia2, Gaëlle Aeby3, Vida Cesnuityte4

1Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa; 2Université de Genève, Switzerland; 3Université de Lausanne; 4Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania.

Research on family meanings and practices in late modernity underlines the continued importance of the bonds of affection and support in families, but it also reveals changing sets of significant family ties and a blurring between kin, ex-kin and non-kin, with commitments going beyond the nuclear family to include a wider array of affinities. Drawing on a configurational approach, the aim of this paper is to examine the plural meanings of family bonds in cross-national comparative perspective, by exploring the changing boundaries between family ties and personal ties in three European countries with specific socio-economic and historical pathways (Portugal, Switzerland, Lithuania). Three national surveys on the Lifecourse and Personal Networks of individuals belonging to two different birth-cohorts (1950-55 and 1970-75) were carried out in 2010-12. After examining the ties which individuals consider as “family” within their personal configurations, the paper analyses the types of “as family” networks and tests for the main shaping factors. Findings reveal commonalities as well as differences between countries. The salience of nuclear kinship ties emerges in all countries, as well as greater fluidity in the social construction of family bonds, in particular through friendship; but there are country-specific aspects with regard to the salience of kin and non-kin in family bonds, the categories of ties imbued with family meaning and the main types of family network. National context and birth-cohort are of major significance, confirming the influence of contextual factors and the need to consider such variables in future theoretical models of personal configurations.

Evolvement of marital networks

Anna-Maija Castrén

University of Eastern Finland, Finland

The paper presents preliminary results of a longitudinal analysis of young couples’ social networks in the early years of marriage. The interest is two-fold: first, to investigate the evolvment of a marital network and the intertwining of two partners’ circles of family and friends into a shared configuration of relationships, and, second, attention is paid to the persons husbands and wives individually consider as emotionally closest to them at two time points, at the time of wedding and after three to eight years of marriage. The analysis draws from a figurational perspective that combines insider and outsider perspectives to relational dynamics and highlights both the subjective view of research participants expressed in qualitative interviews and the relational setting delineated with network analytic tools as important. Data consists of information on the networks of 13 Finnish opposite sex couples in their first marriage. Longitudinal data is collected at the time of couple’s wedding (T1) and after three to eight years of marriage (T2). Different kinds of data are used: personal narratives on significant relationships, structured information on alters and ego-alter -relationships, and structural information on interconnectedness. The paper focuses thematically on changing interdependencies in marital networks. Structural changes in networks are reflected to the ways in which significant relationships are narrated in two time points. The paper aims to further a more in-depth understanding about the intimacy structures evolving during the first years of family life.

A New Form of a Relationship: Distance Marriage Experiences of Academic Couples

Günnur Ertong Attar

Mersin University, Turkey

Marriage experiences have both diversified and differentiated but it still requires a public commitment. In Turkey, strict traditional gender roles are common and “alternative" marriage types are rarely encountered. Academic couples in Turkey, can fall apart because of difficulties in finding positions at universities and due to compulsory service after PhD. This autoetnographic research was conducted in order to study more closely the marriage experience of the academician couples living in different cities which also I am experiencing. In-depth interviews were conducted with wives experiencing this. Although the academic women seem to be a symbol of freedom in the public space, it is worth studying if they feel the same at also private space. I wondered the costs that the ones who broke the norm of living together are bearing. In a controlled and restricted way, marriage gives woman a certain status but this status is threatened by living away from her husband. As the main result I’ve found that husbands who are seen “in charge of” these women are not with them and this rises marginalizaton of these women for public. In this research I asked participants how they see this type of marriage, whether they see social pressure because of this different experience, and I asked their coping strategies.

Keywords: distance marriage, academic couples, a new form of marriage, autoetnography

The impact of the partner market on union formation and dissolution

Johannes Stauder, Jan Eckhard, Tom Kossow, Laura Unsöld

University of Heidelberg, Germany

The composition of the social environment has an important impact on an individual’s way of life. An example of this is the partner market which influences relationship transitions – like union formation, mate selection and relationship stability – in many ways. Usually, studies about the partner market use simple sex ratios with spatial units based on large regions or whole countries. This is in contrast to empirical evidence showing that the choice of a partner is predominantly restricted to much smaller contexts, like the daily rounds of an individual. Therefor our project “Macro-structural conditions of the partner market in longitudinal perspective” applies more elaborated partner market measures to detect variations, influencing factors and consequences of partner market conditions in Germany between 1984 and 2013. Our presentation will give a more detailed introduction into a) the project’s theoretical approach and b) the applied concept for measuring the partner market. The presentation will also contain main results of the project concerning issues like c) the variation of partner market opportunities over the male and female life course, d) differences in partner marked conditions between cohorts, e) influence of demographic changes, like the decline in birth rate, on the partner market, f) the impact of the partner market on relationship transitions, like union formation, mate selection and relationship stability.

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