Intergenerational care in Sweden : A biographical approach
Linn Alenius Wallin
Summary, in Swedish
Practices of care between grandparents, adult children and grandchildren are the hub of intergenerational relationships. To care for an elderly parent, or for a grandchild, is an engagement that can be a necessity coming out of lack of other care providers, or it can be an engagement you voluntarily take upon yourself. It can feel like an obligation, and/or as something you do out of love for your kin, as demanding and time-consuming, or as rewarding and emotionally fulfilling. The doings and significance of intergenerational care in everyday life and throughout the life course is the focus for the study that this paper is based on. Sweden is a particularly interesting case in this respect, given its history of extensive welfare state care solutions and the explicit aim of creating a society marked by social and gender equality through publicly funded social security networks such as elderly care, paid parental leave, and child care. This has meant that individuals historically have been relieved from having to rely and depend upon parents, children or relatives for support (Lundqvist 2011). However, quantitative studies indicate that intergenerational involvement has increased in recent decades and that it is related to gender, class, and ethnicity/migration (Björnberg & Ekbrand 2008; Szebehely & Ulmanen 2012). In this project we investigate this qualitatively, focusing on how intergenerational care is organized, negotiated, and experienced between generations, as well as how gender, class, age, and ethnicity/migration intersect and inform everyday doings of intergenerational care. In the project a three-generation approach is applied, involving grandparents, their adult children, and grandchildren. Through the use of innovative methods (such as diaries and visual methods) we capture doings and understandings of care between generations and in the same family. In this paper we will give you a first glimpse of the analysis, and discuss the potential of using a biographical approach in studying the experience of everyday care doings and relationships during life course.