Graying Siblinghood A Sociological Study of Siblinghood in Late Adulthood

Dana Sýkorová, Hana Šlechtová, Michaela Kvapilová Bartošová

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This monograph provides insight into the thus far sociologically neglected issue of siblinghood in older adulthood. The authors answer questions about the meaning of siblinghood through qualitative research conducted in the Czech context, which included nearly one hundred individual interviews and several focus groups with older men and women who have at least one living sibling. The sibling bond is viewed in the book through the lens of a relationist approach. Within this theoretical framework, siblinghood, as well as the family, are conceptualized as shared practices – activities, or all kinds of interaction between siblings and among members of their extended family. By means of these practices, and according to specific in interaction negotiated rules, siblinghood or family are “doing”. The authors also use the potential of the concept of ambivalence as a framework for interpreting research outcomes. The authors focus on topics that “emerged from the data”, including the availability of siblings in later life as a source of support; older siblings within the complex structure of family relationships; implications of siblinghood-in-law for doing siblinghood; siblinghood in life crises such as widowhood, divorce and illness; contradictions and conflicts in sibling relationships. They present an understanding of not only siblinghood in older age, but also its changes across the life course. At the end of the monograph, a “story” of late-life siblinghood, i.e. an outline of its theory grounded in data is presented. An obvious part of the book’s content is a critical review of the current state of theorizing and empirical research on adult siblinghood and especially in its older phases. The book presents siblinghood as a unique, lifelong bond that plays an important role in the lives of aging social actors. It shows siblinghood as a dynamic relationship, not only harmonious, but – at the same time – facing contradictions, diverse expectations and conflicts. The book is not intended only for sociologists. It attempts to bring closer the sociological context of siblings in late life to readers from other social science fields, practitioners and, last but not least, laypeople for whom siblinghood is part of everyday lived experience.
Graying Siblinghood A Sociological Study of Siblinghood in Late Adulthood

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