Project The Comparative Family History Project
Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Bradd Shore, Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer
Funded by: Sloan Foundation and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation
In a family, stories of the past are an elementary and unique element involved in creating and maintaining the identity of the family and the individual members of the family. Although this realization has already been postulated in developmental psychology and family sociology and is supported by small-scale case studies, there is a surprising lack of comparative studies on the topic of family history. This is all the more surprising, considering the fact that families are faced with enormous challenges posed by relentless economic change and processes of globalization. In this context, it seems especially important to study the reactions within the family and the various ways in which these challenges are dealt with. Even under new economic conditions, families somehow need to succeed in combining personal ambition, economic security, satisfying relationships and a good education.
Recounting the family history synthesizes and integrates all of these different areas. How, precisely, does this process work though? What threats are families faced with as a result of the effects of globalization on work and career patterns as well as its impact on the family members’ future perspectives?
This study examines to what extent the changing economic conditions and employment conditions contribute towards shaping the frame of reference, how families perceive and define themselves and their self-concept as a family over different periods of time.
An international study of family history is taking place in Germany, the USA and Luxembourg. This study aims primarily to identify the differences (a) in the reproduction of the family system; (b) how local conditions and history have influenced the position of families with regard to the past, present and future; (c) the local economic and career perspectives; and (d) local perceptions of the relationship between work and family life.
The function of family history as a timeless, stabilizing element for the family is ubiquitous. This research project concentrates on the content and form of family history and whether, and if so, how this is influenced by the family’s position in relation to distinct historical, social and economic conditions.
The role and status of employment prospects and career aspirations and how they relate to family life and family identity in the individual families are aspects of particular interest. The three societies selected for this study can be expected to provide a fascinating range of contrasts. Consequently, the findings of this project will provide important data for the theory of family history and its role in the development of the identity of the family and the individual identities of the family members.
Project partners are Sophie Neuenkirch, Dr. Claudia Lenz and Dr. Sonja Kmec.
Jens Kroh & Sophie Neuenkirch (eds.)
Erzählte Zukunft. Zur inter- und intragenerationellen Aushandlung von Erwartungen.
How the future impacts on our view of the past.
In: Projects 25 (Sept. 2011), S. 33-35.
Lesley Anne Bleakney & Jens Kroh
Now the Economy Is Down, But It Will Be Up Again. Global Recession and Family Narratives in the United States.
In: Journal of Family Life (5. Mai 2009).