All is not relative: intergenerational norms in Europe – Københavns Universitet

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20. februar 2017

All is not relative: intergenerational norms in Europe

Is the sense of obligation we feel towards our parents comparable to the one we feel towards our children? Most studies of normative solidarity measure only filial norms, that is, norms for children’s obligations towards parents, whilst largely ignoring parental norms, that is, norms for parents’ obligations towards children. Assistant professor Bella Margrethe Mørch Marckmann has in her article 'All is not relative: intergenerational norms in Europe' turned the question arround.

The article quantitatively investigates parental and filial norms in 20 countries within 5 European regions. The article examines the question of whether the family cultures of North-West Europe can be understood as cultures of descending familialism, that is, cultures in which parental obligations are emphasised over filial obligations, as opposed to cultures of extreme individualism. The article contributes to the literature on family norms theoretically by showing that family cultures should be differentiated not merely by their strength but also by their direction, and methodologically by highlighting the importance of developing precise measures of both parental and filial norms. For the Nordic countries in particular, the analysis shows that the family culture is pluralistic, with the question of intergenerational responsibilities being one likely to provoke discussion in these societies for years to come.

Bella Margrethe Mørch Marckmann, All is not relative: intergenerational norms in Europe, European Societies, 2017.