Eric D. Widmer

Girardin, M., Widmer, E.D. (2015). Lay definitions of family and social capital in later life. Personal Relationships. Vol. 22, pp. 712-737



This study explores the lay definitions of family in old age and their consequences for social capital in using an egocentric network approach. Data were derived from a subsample of 578 elders (aged 65 and older) from the Vivre/Leben/Vivere (VLV) study, a large survey addressing family life and health conditions of older people in Switzerland. A hierarchical cluster analysis was performed to create a typology of family networks based on family members who were cited as significant. We identified six family networks: Conjugal, Son, Daughter, Sibling, Kinship, and Sparse. These feature bonding and bridging social capital unequally. Therefore, one should take into account the lay definitions of family to better understand social capital within families in later life.

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