Solidarity and ambivalence: Comparing two perspectives on intergenerational relations using longitudinal panel data

  • Hogerbrugge M
  • Komter A
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OBJECTIVES: Research on family relations has extensively used the intergenerational solidarity model proposed by Bengtson and colleagues. Recently, the relevance of this model for explaining changes in family relations has been questioned, and the concept of intergenerational ambivalence has been proposed as a relevant addition to the model, supposedly acting as a catalyst, and thus serving as an explanation for changes in family relations. This study tests both the viability of the intergenerational solidarity model and the hypothesized effect of ambivalence employing longitudinal data. METHOD: We use data from 2 waves of the Netherlands' Kinship Panel Study on parent-adult child relationships to estimate latent variable structural equation models. RESULTS: Affection, association, and support between family members are core, mutually reinforcing dimensions of solidarity. The hypothesis that ambivalence is a catalyst for change in family relations was not confirmed. Adding conflict separately revealed that it only affects the core solidarity dimensions but is itself, like normative and structural solidarity, not influenced by them. DISCUSSION: The relevance of the concept of intergenerational ambivalence for studying changes in family relations can be questioned. The viability of the intergenerational solidarity model is, however, confirmed. The concept of intergenerational ambivalence might be further explored in qualitative studies on family change.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Family sociology
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Longitudinal methods
  • Structural equation models

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  • Martijn J.A. Hogerbrugge

  • Aafke E. Komter

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