Eric D. Widmer

Widmer, E.D., Girardin, M. (2016). Actively generating one's family: How elders shape their family configurations. In : Scabini, E., Rossi, G. (eds). L'allungamento della vita. Una risorsa per la famiglia, un'opportunità per la società. Vita E Pensiero, Milano. pp. 85-104.



This study explores the ways by which family weness is shaped in later life, and how it relates to social capital, conflict and ambivalence. Data were derived from a sub sample 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. We identified six family configurations: ‘‘Conjugal’’, ‘‘Son’’, ‘‘Daughter’’, ‘Sibling’’, ‘‘Kinship’’, and ‘‘Sparse’’. These were associated with different key life course factors and gave rise to different types of social capital and to distinct patterns of ambivalence. With the pluralization of life courses, individuals develop various ways of creating their family weness which has indeed an impact on family resources in later life.

Keywords: Family weness, Family diversity, Family configurations, Social ­Capital, Patterns of conflict and support, Later life.
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