Maintenance of family networks: Centrality of peripheral communication

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Abstract

Families are social units that expand in time (across generations) and space (as a geographically distributed sub-structures of wider kinship networks). Understanding of intergenerational family relations thus requires conceptualization of communication processes that take place within a small collective of persons linked with one another by a flexible social network. Within such networks, Peripheral Communication Patterns set the stage for direct everyday life activities within the family context. Peripheral Communication Patterns are conditions where one family network member (A) communicates manifestly with another member (B) with the aim of bringing the communicative message to the third member (C) who is present but is not explicitly designated as the manifest addressee of the intended message. Inclusion of physically non-present members of the family network (elders living elsewhere, deceased relatives, ancestors’ spirits, etc.) in efforts that use Peripheral Communication Patterns creates a highly redundant social context for human development over life course which is the basis for family members’ resilience during critical life events. Examples from the social contexts of Greenland, Italy and India will be analyzed to arrive at a general model of the role of peripheral communication as the core of intergenerational value transfer processes.
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Families are social units that expand in time (across generations) and space (as a geographically distributed sub-structures of wider kinship networks). Understanding of intergenerational family relations thus requires conceptualization of communication processes that take place within a small collective of persons linked with one another by a flexible social network. Within such networks, Peripheral Communication Patterns set the stage for direct everyday life activities within the family context. Peripheral Communication Patterns are conditions where one family network member (A) communicates manifestly with another member (B) with the aim of bringing the communicative message to the third member (C) who is present but is not explicitly designated as the manifest addressee of the intended message. Inclusion of physically non-present members of the family network (elders living elsewhere, deceased relatives, ancestors’ spirits, etc.) in efforts that use Peripheral Communication Patterns creates a highly redundant social context for human development over life course which is the basis for family members’ resilience during critical life events. Examples from the social contexts of Greenland, Italy and India will be analyzed to arrive at a general model of the role of peripheral communication as the core of intergenerational value transfer processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Studies
Volume60
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)185-192
ISSN0033-2968
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
ID: 225732991