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FR / EN

No 20 - 2014

Transmission à rebours, filiation inversée, socialisation ascendante : regards renversés sur les rapports de générations
Directed by Delphine Lobet, Lidia Eugenia Cavalcante




Upward transmission, inverted filiation, reverse socialization: intergenerational relationships considered inversely
Delphine Lobet, Lidia Eugenia Cavalcante

The present introductory article provides an overview of current social science research into the question of intergenerational relationships considered inversely, i.e. from children to parents rather than from parents to children. How does research handle the major question of upward transmission, of reverse socialization, of inverted filiation? In brief, how do we handle this question: what indeed do children do to their parents and their family? Subsequent to this element, the article turns to a reflection as to the current context of a more speedy transmission of knowledge. In what ways can a multi-connected information society affect the relationship between parents and children when it comes down to transmission and socialization as such? To conclude, we will take a look at the main discoveries made when those who have contributed to this number of Enfances Familles Générations “reversed” their approach to intergenerational relationships.

Keywords: family, upward transmission, reverse socialization, information society, religion, diet, migration, infanthood


Childhood in a Complex Family Situation: Looking at Family From the Perspective of Children
Claire Ganne

The term “parenthood” has taken on a wider sense within the political, sociological and psychological fields. If it is now agreed that the very fact of being a parent has acquired symbolic, legal, psychological and practical dimensions and can, thus, take several forms, what does this signify with regard to children? How do they define what they see as a family, and which adults do they consider to be their parents? More specifically, in complex situations, what factors do they draw upon in order to define themselves as the child of an adult or of a group? Like parenthood, infanthood is not based simply on biological affiliation, but is also built on representations, on a shared daily life, on a legal framework… Within the framework of a research activity concerning the future of children who have been the subject of socio-educational interventions, we met with twenty-three children between seven and twelve years old. Due to their specific pathways, they have gone through a range of family situations: some live with their two biological parents, others in a single-parent family, in a blended family, in the extended family, in a foster family… Their remarks underline the issues linked to the fact of belonging to more than one family and to the naming of the various players (the child, parents, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents…), and allow us to outline a model of infanthood. In some cases, it is possible to be at one and the same time the child of several parents or several families, but in different manners.

Keywords: infanthood, affiliation, family affiliation, naming, child

"Child Abandoned in China, Then Domesticated in France? What Am I for Them?!"
Simeng Wang

Based on a field survey carried out over a period of three years in the region of Paris and involving young people of Chinese descent who are seeing a psychiatrist in the private or public sector, the present article is focussed on the relationship between these young people and their parents, and more especially on the phenomenon of “inverted parenting,” showing how these migrant children help their parents enjoy the various resources acquired in or related to their host country. Using her analyses of the two-stage migration process—since the gap between the migration(s) of the parents and that of the child may exceed 10 years—the author first highlights three aspects of inverted parenting: cultural, economic, and administrative, together with their underlying logic. Subsequently, she takes into consideration the reactions of the young people involved with this inversion. Having first described the way they feel about being “required” to make themselves available to their parents, she examines the strategies they adopt to circumvent these inverted parenting responsibilities through their outside world (school, work, care settings, associations, etc.) where they hope they may access new possibilities.

Mots-clés: intergenerational relationship, inverted parenting, psychological distress, upward mobility, France, migrant, China

Re-Actualizing the Relationship of Filiation Among Vietnamese People in France Through Buddhism
Jérôme Gidoin

Beginning with an ethnological field review dedicated to the ancestral cult of Vietnamese as practised in France, and reinterpreted on a Buddhist basis, this article deals with the intergenerational transmission of the Vietnamese ethno-religious identity. More and more families who feel that they can no longer manage to pass on the values attached to the Vietnamese identity find it easier to hand over their ancestor worship cult to the monks affiliated to certain Vietnamese pagodas in the Paris region. This phenomenon denotes the erosion of a ritualistic transmission model. Affiliation with a pagoda allows one to preserve a certain number of elements that are essential to an ethical fabric that is being redefined. We see, for example, that young people willingly reclaim their Vietnamese identity, using Buddhism as their referent, but without perpetuating traditional family ritualism. They often consider Buddhism to be a choice. We then see a new way of handling collective referents, and in parallel, a redefinition of the ancestral cult tradition passed on by parents, since every culture needs to adapt to change, more especially within a post-migration context.

Mots-clés: filiation, intergenerational relationship, Buddhism, family religiousness, acculturation, scouting

Halal Put to the Test of Reverse Socialization
Christine Rodier

The analysis of migrant descendant practices is often based on an « over here » and « over there » that are constantly expressed and never relinquished by the person involved. The « over there » suggests that the culture referred to is « timeless » and that history is always subject to culture. The very notion of an « over here » and an « over there » or of an “in between” suggests that adolescents who are descendants of migrants are constantly torn between an « elsewhere » and « here and now » and, thus, have little room for manoeuvre, if any, in their daily lives. This duality is what generates crisis and high levels of tension between adolescents and their parents, on the one hand, and adolescents and society as a whole, on the other. Our objective in the present article is to understand how, via the consumption of Halal (permissible) products, many adolescents challenge their parents’ dietary practices and the “exotic” nature of such practices as presented by supermarkets and as seen by “outsiders,” by which some of them mean « the French. » More specifically, reversed socialization, a notion brought to light by a number of works (Gollety, 1999; Young, 2003) can be detected in the dietary practices of migrant descendants. These descendants are partisans of an Islam that they consider “scholarly,” as distinct from the Islam of their parents, and they refuse the vertical parental transmission in favour of horizontal transmission amongst individuals of their own generation and via a mosque with lettered knowledge and a scriptural approach. This form of transmission would seem to them legitimate because it is based on a text which justifies respect for such or such practice. This reversed socialization with its Halal linkage is part of a new relationship with regard to faith, to its content and to its forms.

Mots-clés: socialization, transmission, Islam, generation, Halal, diet

Insight(s) "On" and "By" Food to Reverse and Understand How Generational Relations Are Reversed: The Example of Reverse Food Socialization
Anne Dupuy

Nutrition is one of the rare fields shared by all generations. This generational pooling, as it were, translates into a certain level of interconnectivity in the dietary transmission relationships and, indeed, presents a remarkable site from which to observe and to analyze socialization processes. Examined in the traditional manner, that is to say vertically down from the adult generations to that of the children, the perspectives offered in the present article, using a nutritional socio-anthropology, will be concerned not only with what children do with what they receive, but above all with how they behave, sometimes in reaction, within their nutrient family circle. Reversed food socialization, variations in educational tension levels, the impact of fidelity or affective relationships on symbolic filiations, feelings of parental success or failure, the maintenance of traditions, the impact of dietary refusals on parental transmission structures: all these factors constitute ways of perceiving and being affected by food that change the ways in which the relationships between generations are perceived and, also, in understanding how children contribute to changing generational relationships.

Mots-clés: socialization, diet, symbolic filiation, educational tension, altruistic preference


Of the "Normal" Mother: Norms, Expertise and Justice in Youth Protection
Emmanuelle Bernheim, Claire Lebeke

Parental skills” are basic to any intervention for the protection of young people. However, the concept itself is controversial and indeterminate, subject to interpretation by a wide range of specialists, with an equally wide range of training backgrounds and methodologies. Nevertheless, although the evidentiary weight of the expert assessments of behaviours has been questioned by many legal scholars, the courts systematically continue to call on them. This failure to examine the skills and working methods of such experts has resulted in the formalization of a system of benchmarks that has been built up insidiously over time, creating a context that leads legal activity to contribute to the upholding of social inequalities.

Keywords: parental skills, expert assessment, courts, mother, mental health

Disability, Family, and Support: A Quebec-Switzerland Cross Perspective
Geneviève Piérart, Sylvie Tétreault, Pascale Marier Deschênes, Sophie Blais-Michaud

This text offers a cross-analysis of support for the families of handicapped children in Québec and in French-speaking Switzerland. For each region it presents the main legislation tied in with family policies regarding handicaps, Social Security provisions, and the organization of social, educational, and health services. The two territories share a joint historical heritage, based on a humanitarian approach to handicaps. In the 1970s, the claims of associative movements allowed both those regions to initiate a professional structure with respect to the support of handicapped persons and their relations. Currently, the Québec system is set in an ambulatory perspective, whereas in French-speaking Switzerland it is still the specialized institutes that play a major role. In both these Francophone sectors of Federal States, major needs still exist as regards the families of handicapped children, despite the development of innovative solutions.

Mots-clés: handicapped child, family, support, Quebec, Switzerland, social services, family policies

Should I Stop or Are You Carrying On?
David Baril, Sylvain Bourdon

This article is focused on the relationships between unqualified young adults moving into liberal adult education (LAE) and their parents, by bringing out the concept of intergenerational ambivalence. This analysis is based on semi-structured interviews carried out with some 30 young adults, aged between 16 and 30, when they were taking part in LAE level studies. Our analyses bring out the fact that parents are often emotionally involved in the schooling of their children. As a rule, they are never far behind them, whether supporting them and encouraging their learning activities, or with a view to reminding them, or enjoining them, directly or indirectly, to meet their scholarly expectations. Additionally, the relationship between parents and young adults who went directly from the youth sector to LAE shows little ambivalence, compared with that between parents and young adults who have broken off their secondary level studies before moving on to LAE. Overall, one may note the implementation of Kurt Lüscher’s four major strategies of ambivalence management, but their nature appears to be mainly dependent on whether the move to LAE is continuous, following on directly from the youth sector studies, or subsequent to a significant break in their schooling.

Mots-clés: ambivalence, adult education, interruption of schooling, young people, parent

The Best Interest of the Child Whose Custody is Challenged: Issues, Context and Practices
Élisabeth Godbout, Claudine Parent, Marie-Christine Saint-Jacques

This summary of theoretical, scientific, and professional writings is focused on three questions related to determining the best interests of the child whose custody is disputed following a separation : (1) What are the stakes when it comes down to the best interests of the child ? (2) What are the characteristics of the situations that end up being analyzed or debated in the courtroom ? (3) How is this principle assessed from a practical point of view ; what weight is given to the various criteria examined by the judges and the specialists ? As concerns the professionals whose task it is to come to a decision as to the best interests of the child, the answers to these questions highlight a range of challenges that underlie their being regulated by a flexible yardstick that provides few clear guidelines within a context itself often extremely controversial and complex. An examination of these writings concerning the practices of judges and specialists reveals two conflicting currents of thought : the importance of the referral parent, more especially when the children are very young, and the trend towards co-parenting and an equal sharing of custody between the parents. It is on the basis of these conclusions that suggestions for future research are made.

Mots-clés: best interests of the child, right of access, separation, psychosocial expertise, custody, assessment




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