Eric D. Widmer

Widmer, E. D. (2014). Partnerships, family and personal configurations. In : Treas, J., Scott, J., and Richards, M. ( eds). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families. Chichester : John Wiley & Sons, pp. 236-254.

Various recent authors have stressed the usefulness of considering family and personal networks as factors shaping couples' interactions, projects, and behavior. Several dimensions of the relational context of partnerships have proved to be important for couples. Researchers have provided evidence in the last decade that the processes shaping such dyads can be better explained as pieces and parcels of larger chains of relationships. Following recent trends in family sociology, this chapter reconsiders this evidence by conceptualizing families and personal networks as configurations. The configurational perspective proposes a set of processes and explanations that somewhat modify and renew the understanding of family relationships in late modernity. I first present the main features of the configurational perspective on families and personal networks, and than, I turn to a series of studies concerning couples and their configurations that exemplify this perspective.

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