Families By Default: Frazzled and Fraught

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 12:45
Oral Presentation
Susan MCDANIEL, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
The prevailing contemporary ideal, at least in most neo-liberal policy regimes, is individualization of risk writ large, as risk insurance and supports by states shrink. Left with few options, people turn to families either biological or chosen. Families of origin are not always places that take you in when there is nowhere else to go, as poet Robert Frost opined. They can be fractious and violent, perhaps even more so when individuals are tossed together out of duress or need. Building on previous research by the author on families of choice in managing low income (Gazso & McDaniel, 2015), on meanings of family with ageing and social change (McDaniel & Gazso, 2014), on networks as family (Gazso, McDaniel & Waldron, 2015) as well as on relative prospects of children as they age (McDaniel, Duncan & Gaszo, 2016), the research in this paper analyses interviews with those in mid-life in two SES groups in two countries, the US and Canada. The methodological innovation is that the interviews not originally done with an intergenerational focus, are re-coded into generational groupings. This avoids the solidarity bias in many intergenerational surveys, and offers new insight into intergenerational conflicts and contestations. The overarching context for the interviews is the economic crisis, the Great Recession of 2008 +. We find that re-familisation is fraught, even when chosen. Intergenerational relationships can be strengthened but as often are fraught.