Family as relationship in the post-modern society: suggestions from the relational sociology

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In the contemporary society different scholars have emphasized the pluralization processes and variability in family forms (Giddens 1991; Beck, Beck-Gernsheim 2001; Baumann 2000). This trend is known as “individualization”, where individuals and self-realization become primary objective and the relationships are "instrumental" to personal happiness and gratification. In this context the value of family ties becomes considerably weakened: some sociologists wonder if the family is still a resource or rather an obstacle for the individual or even an outdated institution. By contrast, other scholars have focused on the relational plot underlying the concept of family (Widmer, Jallinoia 2008; Smart 2007; Morgan 1996; Rossi, Bramanti 2012): among these it is notable the proposal of the Relational Sociology developed in Italy by Pierpaolo Donati, considering the family as a specific and unique relationship between genders and generation (Donati 2011; Donati, Archer 2015). The Relational Sociology suggests a “family genome”, that is a latent structural pattern, present in all cultures since the origin of human history and civilization, which constitutes the specific identity of the family (Terenzi, Boccacin, Prandini 2016). Family genome is the DNA of the family, which remains unchanged and defines the specify of a family relationship. Moreover, society itself is considered as a relationship, therefore the family plays a central role in the constitution of those social subjectivities that compose it. The processes of pluralization, individualization and deinstitutionalization find, in the broader social context, interpretations in accordance with those proposed by the reflection on the evolution of the family forms. In the attempt to respond to a definition of the current social structure based on liquidness (Bauman 2000), riskiness (Beck 1992) and transhuman (Foucault 2008; Giddens 1991), the contribution offered by the Relational Sociology identifies in the family and in the its potential's relational an important element for the constitution of a new model of "civil society" (Donati 2012; 2015). Through the redefinition of the emergent actors of the social private sector and the third sector, the familiar’s and relational’s code seeks to address and understand the complexity of the present. In this contribution we intend to discuss two questions: 1. How is it possible to define family in the face of individualization processes typical of contemporary society? 2. How is it possible, in this context, to value the family as a resource for social development? We’ll answer these two questions by presenting the Relational Perspective approach to the family, from a theoretical point of view and highlighting the applicative implications.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteModern Science
Numero di pagine9
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018
Evento5th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM - Firenze
Durata: 23 ott 201826 ott 2018


Convegno5th International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM


  • Civil Society
  • Family
  • Relational Sociology
  • Third Sector


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