Family ties

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Family ties in a life course perspective are defined as resources and strains (Widmer, 2016). Indeed, the linked life principle emphasizes the impact that significant alters have on each other's life chances by providing instrumental or emotional support. Family ties are at the core of convoys that accompany individuals throughout their life. Such convoys may be of critical importance for other life domains, in relation with the multi-dimensionality of the life course stressed by the LIVES framework on vulnerability. A variety of LIVES research revealed spill-over effects between family and working trajectories showing the importance of family ties for achieving sustainable life trajectories. Similarly, research on old age show a strong association between family networks, health and well-being. Other work (Cullati et al., 2018) stresses the fact that family ties may constitute in some circumstances reserves that may help to overcome stressful events. The functional importance of family ties, both negative and positive, will have to be addressed in a variety of national contexts, both Western and non-Western, characterized by distinct gender regimes.

Author: Eric Widmer


Cullati, S., Kliegel, M., & Widmer, E. D. (2018). Development of reserves over the life course and onset of vulnerability in later life. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(8), 551-558.
Widmer, E. D. (2016). Family configurations: A structural approach to family diversity. Routledge.

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