There is no shortage of political and moral commentary on family life. Frequently the underlying theme of these commentaries is the decline of contemporary family commitment, particularly when older people's family experiences are the focus.
"Family Practices in Later Life" challenges many common stereotypes about the nature of family involvement as people age. The book explores diversity and change in the family relationships older people maintain, looking at how family relationships are constructed and organised in later life. It recognises that the emerging patterns are a consequence of the choices and decisions negotiated within family networks, emphasising older people's agency in the construction of their family practices. In exploring such themes as long-term marriage, sibling ties in later life and grandparenthood, the book highlights the continued significance of family connection and solidarity in later life, while recognizing that family relationships are inevitably modified over time as people's social and material circumstances alter.
"Family Practices in Later Life" will be of interest to students, researchers and academics in the fields of social policy, family studies and social gerontology. It provides a valuable contribution to the developing field of critical social gerontology as well as to an understanding of family process.
Pat Chambers is a senior lecturer in Social Work at Keele University, teaching on undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in social work and social gerontology. Her research interests focus on 'ordinary lives' in the context of growing older and the application of this knowledge to social work with older people.
Chris Phillipson is Professor of Applied Social Studies and Social Gerontology, at Keele University. His disciplinary background is sociology where he has specialised in the field of ageing.
Mo Ray is a registered social worker and has spent many years in practice as a social worker for older people. Currently Mo works as a lecturer in Social Work at Keele University and is postgraduate Director of the Masters in Social Work programme.
Graham Allan is Professor of Sociology at the University of Keele. His research has focused principally on the sociology of informal relationships, including friendships, family ties, and community sociology.
Introduction; Family practices and family relationships; Families in later life; Older parents and their adult children; Long-lasting relationships; Brothers and sisters; Grandparenting; Later life widow(er)hood; Globalisation and transnational communities: implications for family life in old age; Changing times: older people and family ties.
"As both an academic social gerontologist and great-grandfather I can thoroughly recommend this ground-breaking book. It opens up a much needed new perspective by confronting outdated stereotypes, revealing a world where family doesn't simply mean parents and young children." Professor John Vincent, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter