Accepted Paper:

Centripetal families, centrifugal kinships: young adults’ perceptions of “strong ties” in Central Italy  


Daniela Salvucci (Free University of Bolzano-Bozen)

Paper short abstract:

How do young adult Italians perceive their family and kinship ties? How “strong” do they consider and practice such relations? Based on ethnographic data, the paper focuses on the concepts of kinship and family and their logics.

Paper long abstract:

Scholars involved in historical demography, demography, sociology and anthropology of kinship and family state, on the one hand, “strong ties” still exist in Central Italy as a cultural heritage from the traditional peasant joint family structure. On the other one, they remark, strong solidarity between relatives, above all between parents and adult children, depends on the weakness of the Italian welfare state: family and kinship would provide such a material support that public system does not, for instance taking care of babies and aged, making available a house to dwell, providing economic and social resources etc.

Based on ethnographic qualitative data, collected in southern Tuscany, as interviews to young adults and graphical reconstructions of their kinship networks and household structures, this proposal aims to investigate the young adults’ perceptions and concepts of “family” and “kinship” in order to discuss “strong ties” further. Many of the young adult interviewees are not “interested in kinship”, they are not aware of their wide kinship network and do not have relations with relatives beyond their family. While “kinship” is widespread and unknown, according to a centrifugal logic, “family” is a centripetal concept. It entails an intimate sphere of love and solidarity, based on living together and growing up together, which could include the partner, some of the closer relatives and friends.

Panel P011
Family and kinship in contemporary Southern Europe: transformations, convergences and variations in a macro-regional perspective