A multigenerational point of view: The contribution of relational sociology

Donatella Bramanti, Giovanna Rossi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Family and social intergenerational relationships have experienced a major morphogenetic change following the significant socio-demographic transformations brought about by the mechanisms of natural variations in population (birth and death rates). These transformations have led to the formation of smaller families – i.e. having fewer family members –, which are characterized by the simultaneous presence of more than one generation – multigenerational families, made up of three or more generations, are the so-called beanpole families (Dykstra, 2010) – and have relatively few horizontal (intragenerational) relationships and numerous vertical (intergenerational) relationships (Saraceno, 2008). We aim to examine this morphogenesis from a generational standpoint (Boccacin, 2005), whose heuristic significance is represented by a (both structural and cultural) multidimensionality of the relationships between generations and, in particular, of the symbolic meaning generated through them and transmitted within the family and society. This paper also focuses on solidarity between generations by discussing the well-known Bengtson’s and Roberts’ paradigm (1991), which was later revisited from a relational perspective by Silverstein and Bengtson (1997). Elements of risk in intergenerational relationships that are not being considered in most postmodern analyses and reflections will also be emphasized. Conversely, relationships between generations are not immune from ambivalence (Lüscher, 2011) and can therefore be either generative or degenerative (thus generating relational goods or evils). Results from recent surveys conducted by our research team can eloquently exemplify the concepts presented in this chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Relational Outlook on a Changing Society,
EditorsE Carrà, P Terenzi
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • multigenerational
  • relational sociology


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