The Moral Economy of Families


Content and purpose of the project

Do you owe your parents anything? Or are only parents under a life-long obligation to help their children? Sociological and economic research shows that parents in general are net-givers in relation to adult children, but has thrown very little light on the normative aspects of intergenerational exchanges. This project uses survey- and interview data to analyse the moral economy of families, i.e. the normative perceptions and expectations surrounding economic, practical and symbolic exchanges between parents and adult children. The project explores the moral economy of families using a mixed methods design including multivariate, non-parametrical analyses of survey data from the European Values Study and qualitative interviews with people in different types of family relations. Theoretically, the project takes as its point of departure Mauss’ analysis of the gift and the insight that social relations are constituted and maintained through material and symbolic exchanges. Empirically, the project focuses on relations between parents and adult children and examines how perceptions of intergenerational obligations interact with understandings of the welfare state