The objective of the conference is to present innovative research on family relations and facilitate the exchange of today's knowledge and current ideas in the vast and still-expanding area of research on family relations.
The topic of the conference includes perspectives from different branches of psychology and sociology, as well as from other disciplines studying this subject. The conference will highlight the latest research findings and will address topics that are of interest to researchers and those active in different fields of application.
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Full Scientific programme will be published later.
Families in a Changing Europe: Challenges, Conflicts and Intervention
The 6th ESFR Congress will focus on the implications of contemporary social, cultural and economic changes, and the challenges these raise for family relations, family practices and family policy. We also invite contributors to reflect on the implication of these changes for research methods.
Since the late 1980’s, the cultural, socio-economic and political landscape of European societies have altered considerably. Many of these changes may have profound implications for the institution of the family, the internal dynamics of family relations and for policy intervention. Demographic changes, along with the current economic crisis and increased migration, raise new questions about relatedness and the balance between family obligations and those of the welfare state. New forms of gender relations, new reproductive technologies and a larger variety in family formations challenge traditional views about what a family is and should be. Different family norms and practices due to greater ethnic and cultural variation give rise to legal problems as well as negotiations of values and belonging. These changes have led to new research interests concerning family practices, family policy, relatedness, family crisis and intervention which the Congress seeks to approach from a wide range of thematic domains in psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, legal studies and history.
Europe faces demographic changes, including rapid population ageing and low fertility rates. Despite trends such as postponing the first child and having more children outside marriage, differences in fertility across countries remain large. While the fertility rate is very low in some south European counties, fertility is rising in the Nordic countries and France, despite high levels of female employment and unstable family patterns. Migration and new technology contribute to the complexity of the meaning and practices of fertility and aging. We invite research that explores these varied trends and their consequences for the processes within family relations.
We want to address the consequences of the current economic crisis for the situation of families and for national family policies: what does prioritization in times of financial struggle imply for welfare benefits? Do the financial recession and the increased gap between rich and poor represent threats to the welfare of families and children, and if so, in what ways? We also welcome research that discusses the balance between family life and demanding, flexible working regimes including job mobility.
Migration to Europe , including labour and family related migration as well as forced and irregular migration, contributes significantly to contemporary social, economic and demographic changes. Migrants meet some of the urgent needs in society. They also put well known family policy issues on the agenda with renewed force, such as gender relations, intergenerational relations, value transitions, social cohesion and belonging.
Migration and a globalized work force have resulted in various forms of transnational family practices. As a consequence of transnational marriage and labour migration, families face new challenges in the field of relatedness, couple relationship, parenthood and care. We invite research on a broad range of topics which explore the implications of, for example, migration for family reasons, transnational family lives, and intergenerational transmission.
Multiple family forms
Changing family patterns have given rise to both nuclear and extended families, one and two parent families, shared residence for children, and step parenthood. In the last few years many European countries have implemented new reproductive technology and in some European countries, new legislation has enabled, for example, same-sex marriage, adoptions, and surrogate motherhood. These trends lead to ethical debate as well as to new types of family and parenthood.
Despite such multiple family forms existing simultaneously, most research is oriented towards the nuclear family. We therefore invite contributions which address the increasing diversity in family forms and family relations, and the challenges and potential family crises and conflicts these changes can lead to.
The division of work and care in the family has for some time been a central part of discussions concerning gender equality. Changing situations in terms of female work participation led to new challenges of managing time in families with children. Policy incentives aimed at involving men in child care have been introduced in several European countries as a step towards a more equal division of work and care. However differences across countries are substantial when it comes to available benefits such as parental leave and child care provision. Furthermore the public debates across Europe differ in defining both problem areas and perceived solutions to gender equality challenges.
We invite researchers to discuss the implications of gender equality policies aimed at redistributing time for work and care in the family. In Europe today, what challenges do men and women face when they become parents? How do men and women in their daily lives arrange and negotiate the division of care and work? What can be said about children’s daily lives in families where both parents to a greater extent contribute to both wage earning and caring?
Recent decades have seen a steady transformation in the meaning of family fromrelational obligationstowardsindividual rights.One core challenge of this development is the caring policy for children and for elderly people. All overEurope, social care can be described as “care going public”. Still both childcare and care for older people remain mainly a combination of formal and informal care where the role of families and especially women in families is still remarkable. Caring arrangements in various European societies expose different attitudes towards the family as an institution, the welfare state and the commercialization of family matters as well as the normative fundament of family practices.
As part and parcel of these changes, children’s early education has entered the public agenda. As a consequence, the capacity of both kindergarten and families to deliver proper early childhood education has been questioned increasingly. We invite researchers to discuss these perspectives. We also wish to explore the new care and family practices from a child perspective.
We invite research on intervention programmes such as family counselling, child welfare services, family support and empowerment given by NGOs, private agencies or state authorities. What challenges do these interventions face because of the changes we have outlined? How do the families of children or parents with special needs experience their situation?
What are the psychological challenges at the intersection of public policy for intimate relationships and childcare on the one hand, and parents’ and children’s relatedness, on the other?
Challenges for the Welfare states
Family policies are linked to basic assumptions about the role of the family in society, and are often normative and highly ideologised. Family-affecting state interventions are driven by a wide range of motives, often to compensate for the negative consequences of the trends mentioned above, or to support required changes. Increasing interest in gender equality has motivated research on fatherhood and men’s participation in family matters, and we welcome contributors in this field.
The variety of European welfare systems and family policies exceeds existing welfare regime typologies, and makes comparative research on family policy in Europe a rich field of investigation. We therefore invite research, including comparative research, on family policy, measures and best practices as well as on critical family policy questions and the changing ideational foundation of family policy.