Contemporary grandparenthood : behind the scenes of the idealized traditional image
The article presents a qualitative study based on interviews with adolescents and their grandparents living in Geneva. The analysis is centered on changes over time in relations between grandparents and grandsons or grandaughters and brings to light the different issues involved in this relation, particularly when grandchildren are entering adolescence. We identify various dyadic configurations, establishing an opposition between those that involve a feeling of constancy (either of closeness or distance) and those that show signs of movement and change. In contrast to the fashionable image of richly gratifying grandparenthood, manageable and available to all, we underline the diversity of people’s experience and probe the underlying determinants of it, pointing up varying levels in the resources likely to be used in and for this relation – material and financial resources but also symbolic and identity-related ones – and a potentially unequal distribution of such resources across social space.