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Publication date: 17 December 2003

Kurt Lüscher

Intergenerational relations imply dealing with ambivalences. This thesis is what the contributions to this volume have in common. Yet, critics may claim that it is not a…

Abstract

Intergenerational relations imply dealing with ambivalences. This thesis is what the contributions to this volume have in common. Yet, critics may claim that it is not a new insight. Among them are those who recall that some of the greatest sagas in Greek mythology depicted what we now refer to as ambivalence. Others may argue that the experience of ambivalence pervades everyday life. Adult children, for example, feel ambivalent about placing their elderly father or mother in a nursing home. Parents have mixed feelings about their child’s living with a partner without an intention to marry and have children. A son’s or a daughter’s “coming out” as gay or lesbian is fraught with ambivalence on both sides.

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Publication date: 17 December 2003

Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer

A cursory look at the contemporary social scientific literature shows that the concept of ambivalence has gained prominence in analyses of contemporary societies and…

Abstract

A cursory look at the contemporary social scientific literature shows that the concept of ambivalence has gained prominence in analyses of contemporary societies and identities, and in analyses of interpersonal relationships and interactions. With respect to societal analyses, for example, Bauman has argued that the postmodern habitat “is a territory subjected to rival and contradictory meaning-bestowing claims and hence perpetually ambivalent” (Bauman, 1992, p. 193). “To live with ambivalence,” Varga suggests (Varga, 2001), is the postmodern pronouncement. By using ambivalence as an “interpretive category” rather than as a “research construct” (Lüscher, this volume Chaps 2 and 7), however, sociologists often leave unspecified whether this way of living entails different things for different social actors.

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Kurt Lüscher and Frank Lettke

This chapter reports on methods and results of an exploratory research project on intergenerational ambivalence between parents and their adult children. The study was…

Abstract

This chapter reports on methods and results of an exploratory research project on intergenerational ambivalence between parents and their adult children. The study was conducted in 1998 and 1999 at the research center for “Society and Family” at the University of Konstanz. Its conceptual framework consists of the theoretical considerations and the schematic model touched upon in Chap. 2 of this book (see pp. 23–62) as one attempt to operationalize the concept of intergenerational ambivalence.

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Publication date: 17 December 2003

Karen L Fingerman and Elizabeth Hay

Parents and offspring experience strong feelings for one another throughout the life span. Indeed, as other chapters in this volume suggest, this relationship is fraught…

Abstract

Parents and offspring experience strong feelings for one another throughout the life span. Indeed, as other chapters in this volume suggest, this relationship is fraught with complexity. Yet, it is not clear whether ambivalence is specific to the parent-child relationship or whether it is characteristic of close relationships in general. Further, we do not know whether parents and children experience ambivalence in their tie throughout life or only at specific periods of life. In this chapter, we address two questions about ambivalence in the parent-child relationship: (1) Do individuals experience more ambivalence in their relationships with parents and offspring than they do in other social relationships? (2) Do individuals experience varying degrees of ambivalence in this relationship at different points in the life span?

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Publication date: 17 December 2003

Karl Pillemer and Kurt Lüscher

Every book has its unique history. Our own interest in intergenerational ambivalence developed in discussions during Karl Pillemer’s sabbatical in 1996 at the University…

Abstract

Every book has its unique history. Our own interest in intergenerational ambivalence developed in discussions during Karl Pillemer’s sabbatical in 1996 at the University of Konstanz Research Center on Society and the Family. Despite using different methods, samples, and research frameworks, both of us had come up with findings about intergenerational relations that could not be interpreted easily within existing theoretical frameworks. Kurt Lüscher’s study of family reorganization after older parents’ divorce pointed toward complex tensions between interpersonal closeness and distance, and between a desire to preserve traditional family forms and to strike out in new directions (Lüscher & Pajung-Bilger, 1998). Similarly, Lüscher’s work on family rhetoric (Lüscher, 2000) and on contemporary families (Lüscher, 1998) suggested the limitations of existing frameworks in these areas. Karl Pillemer’s research on elder mistreatment had revealed the paradoxical circumstance that extreme conflict and a high degree of solidarity coexist in abusive families (Pillemer & Suitor, 1992; Pillemer & Wolf, 1998; Wolf & Pillemer, 1997) and his studies of parent-child relationships had pointed to the prevalence of interpersonal conflict and unmet expectations (Pillemer & Suitor, 1998; Suitor & Pillemer, 1988, 1996) as well as their negative impact on parental well-being (Pillemer & Suitor, 1991).

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Gregory R Maio, Frank D Fincham, Camillo Regalia and F.Giorgia Paleari

Parents and children can drive each other mad. At one moment, a parent may be encouraging and affectionate toward the child; in the next, the parent may be sending the…

Abstract

Parents and children can drive each other mad. At one moment, a parent may be encouraging and affectionate toward the child; in the next, the parent may be sending the child to his or her bedroom. Similarly, a child who seems helpful and cooperative can suddenly turn belligerent. Parents and children may partly resolve the mixture of negative and positive feelings they experience in such situations by remembering their basic love for each other. Nevertheless, the conflicting sentiments will be stored in the memory of both parties, contributing to a long-lasting melange of conflicting beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. What are the psychological consequences of this state of affairs in relationships?

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Karl Pillemer

There is a long history of interest in the concept of ambivalence, as the contributions to the present volume show. It is therefore somewhat remarkable that until very…

Abstract

There is a long history of interest in the concept of ambivalence, as the contributions to the present volume show. It is therefore somewhat remarkable that until very recently, ambivalence has not been explicitly employed in research on intergenerational relations in later life. Given the popular acceptance of contradictory feelings about parents (Cohler, 1983) and the frequent portrayal of such contradictions in cultural products (Reinharz, 1986), this may be a major gap in research. However, the question remains: Is some degree of ambivalence in fact characteristic of parent-child relationships in later life? If so, do participants in these relationships identify ambivalence when it occurs? Further, is intergenerational ambivalence related to other variables of interest? This chapter presents results from a study that addressed the issue of ambivalence in older parent-adult child relations. Measures of intergenerational ambivalence were developed and employed in a sample of 189 older women.

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Pauline Boss and Lori Kaplan

…the astonishing struggle that lasts foreverFrancine Du Plessix Gray (2000).…the simultaneous sound of…both harmonies and dissonancesKurt Lüscher (2000).I wanted to watch…

Abstract

…the astonishing struggle that lasts forever Francine Du Plessix Gray (2000). …the simultaneous sound of…both harmonies and dissonances Kurt Lüscher (2000). I wanted to watch my father die because I hated him. Oh, I loved him… Sharon Olds (1992).The concept of absolute absence or presence is not meaningful for adult children when an elderly parent’s mind is slipping away. This is a time of increased ambiguity in the family boundary, in which the status and roles of the demented elder are no longer clear, and often not agreed upon. Not knowing if a parent is absent or present, the potential for ambivalence in the adult children is high. Within this intergenerational context, the main thesis of this paper is that the ambiguous loss of a parent with dementia provides fertile ground for increased ambivalence in intergenerational relations (Boss, 1999, 2002). The heightened ambiguity and resulting ambivalence may or may not be problematic, depending on cognitive awareness and family processes.

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Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Bertram J Cohler

Understood as the simultaneous experience of necessarily conflicting attitudes, wishes, feelings, or intentions, the concept of ambivalence has a complex history in…

Abstract

Understood as the simultaneous experience of necessarily conflicting attitudes, wishes, feelings, or intentions, the concept of ambivalence has a complex history in psychological and social analysis. Lüscher (2000) reviewed the history of this concept, initially used in the study of abnormal states, and then generalized to the realm of the usual and expectable in social life. It should be noted at the outset that the term “ambivalence” presents two problems for social analysis: adoption of a term initially intended to portray abnormal states for the expectable course of adult life, and the extension of a concept founded on the study of personal states to social analysis. Consistent with Bleuler’s (Riklin, 1910/1911) initial discussion of the term ambivalence,1 Freud (1909, 1912, 1912–1913, 1914) attempted to resolve the first problem by showing that ambivalence – as the experience of mixed and conflicting sentiments regarding those who are particularly important in one’s own life – inevitably emerges out of the child’s effort to resolve the tension between social reality and his or her own desire focused on the parents of early childhood. At the same time, Freud compounded the second problem by regarding the realm of the social as the personal writ large.

Details

Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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Book part
Publication date: 17 December 2003

Frank Lettke and David M. Klein

Although ambivalence is a common experience in family relations, the conceptualization of these relations has been focused on solidarity, closeness, and attraction on one…

Abstract

Although ambivalence is a common experience in family relations, the conceptualization of these relations has been focused on solidarity, closeness, and attraction on one hand, and on stress, distance, disruption, and abuse on the other. Ambivalence has not often been considered systematically for the analysis of intergenerational relations. Measurement instruments are not widely available for this purpose, because they tend to focus on one dimension at a time (Berscheid, 1983, pp. 115–116).

Details

Intergenerational Ambivalences: New Perspectives on Parent-Child Relations in Later Life
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76230-801-9

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