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Contemporary grandparentingChanging family relationships in global contexts$
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Sara Arber and Virpi Timonen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781847429681

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847429681.001.0001

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A new look at grandparenting

A new look at grandparenting

Chapter:
(p.1) One A new look at grandparenting
Source:
Contemporary grandparenting
Author(s):

Sara Arber

Virpi Timonen

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847429681.003.0001

This introductory chapter of Contemporary Grandparenting provides an overview of the main themes, arguments and frameworks that research on grandparents has yielded, highlighting how the book addresses lacunae in the literature and engages with new/poorly understood aspects of grandparenthood. The chapter outlines the key recent changes in the demographic, socioeconomic, family and social policy contexts that frame grandparenthood. Key concepts and frameworks (solidarity, conflict and ambivalence) that are discussed and advanced in Contemporary Grandparenting are introduced in this chapter. Research on how grandparenting practices vary by gender, lineage, age, marital status, grandchild characteristics and geographical distance is summarised. Typologies of grandparenting styles are outlined. Research that has approached family relations through focus on intergenerational transfers (of time, money, practical assistance) is briefly discussed. The strong emphasis on the middle generation that emerges from earlier literature is synopsised. The chapter concludes by arguing that the role of grandparents in 21st-century families is more multidimensional, complex and dynamic than it has been in earlier periods in history. Grandparents are a heterogeneous group, and important differences persist between cultural and welfare state contexts in how grandparenthood is constructed and enacted. The nature of grandparenting is evolving in response to external demands from families and economies, but also in accordance with grandparents’ own choices.

Keywords:   Demography, Longevity, Generations, Solidarity, Conflict, Ambivalence, Intergenerational transfers, Grandparenting styles, Middle generation, Agency

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