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Study Notes

Ross et al ‘Relationships Between Grandparents and Teenage Grandchildren’, (2005)

A Level

Last updated 19 Aug 2020

This a summary of this piece of contemporary sociological research, linking it to research methods and to topics in A Level Sociology.

Brief summary of research methods:

  • Individual and group interviews
  • 75 teenagers (aged 10-19) and 73 older people (aged early 50s to late 80s) participated in the study
  • Participants were from a range of backgrounds (in terms of affluence and ethnicity)

Key findings:

  • Grandparents used positive language when describing their experiences (e.g. ‘love’ and ‘happiness’).
  • Young people highlighted the role of grandparents in mediating conflict amongst family members with particular emphasis on their listening skills and impartiality.
  • Perception of the elderly varied amongst teenagers with some perceiving their grandparents as ‘modern’ or ‘up to date’ but other teenagers commenting that they were ‘frail’ or ‘out of touch'.
  • Some grandparents felt they had to carry out more responsibilities than they desired.
  • Factors which affected the extent to which young people felt close to their grandparents: past contact and area, geographical distance, frequency of meeting, feelings of connectedness and overlaps in interactions between family and friends.
  • If a good relationship existed between young people and their grandparents, then this was more likely to continue despite divorce/separation.

Link to specification:

Link to Families and Households and Culture and Identity:

  • Highlights the role of grandparents in contemporary society in providing support and care particularly to young people.
  • Despite changing patterns in marriage and divorce, close bonds with grandparents are likely to continue. This lends into a greater discussion on the family structures in today’s society.
  • Can provide insight into the socialisation experiences of young people; likely to receive guidance and norms and values through regular interaction with grandparents.
  • Can link to the personal life perspective and postmodern discussions; young people meeting their grandparents or introducing their friends/peers to their grandparents elicited feelings of closeness and connectivity. Can use this as evidence that the notion of ‘the extended family’ is not entirely fixed and defined by its members.
  • Can be linked to discussions of old age and social construction of ‘being old’ – many grandparents took active roles in the lives of their grandchildren and sought to stay up to date with trends and technology. Could be argued that widespread use of smartphone devices etc have allowed the elderly to not only keep in touch with relatives but remain up to date as well.
  • Highlights the importance of studying the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren in context of other family relationships and friendships.

Link to original article:

https://era.ed.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1842/2778/rb23grandparents.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fbac/6ddab952e657f8dc11ad820883a70dfbcc22.pdf


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