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Kurt Lüscher (2001)

Sociological Approach to the Family*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 26, 2/2001, p. 173-201, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

Many disciplines are questioning the "raison d'être" of the family in light of the far-reaching social changes now in progress. An important starting point for a sociological approach to the current understanding of the family lies in the demographic data. These data particularly stress the fall in the birth rate and the increase in life expectancy. Both refer at heart to a change in the public and private significance of children and – in more general terms – to relations between the generations. This is why it makes sense to place the patterns of relations between the generations at the centre of any sociological analysis of the family. There are anthropological, historical foundations to the suggestion that relations between the generations require to deal with ambivalences. To the extent that this is possible, the thesis that the specific raison d'être of the family lies in its potential for "reliable" relationships can also be justified. This is a portrait which rejects the characterisations very common in rhetoric concerning the family, which unilaterally either idealise or attack the relationships within it, in favour of a pragmatic understanding of the tasks performed with families and the benefits gained therefrom.

* Original title: Soziologische Annäherungen an die Familie (full text in German only)

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