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No 44 - 2023

Family and Eco-citizenship
Directed by Béatrice Lefebvre, Michel T. Léger, Natasha Blanchet-Cohen

Family and Eco-citizenship
Béatrice Lefebvre, Natasha Blanchet-Cohen, Michel T. Léger

Research framework: Although the family is typically the place where socialization and learning begin, and where values, practices and cultures are handed down, the ways in which eco-citizenship is taught within the family remain underexplored in current research.

Objectives: This introductory article, along with the other articles in this special issue, explores various aspects of the relationship between family and eco-citizenship.

Methodology: This article is based on a partial review of the humanities and social sciences literature on the subject.

Results: The introductory article and the texts that make up the special issue shed light on the ways in which family dynamics are changing, on children’s and young people’s involvement in environmental action, and on the role of institutions in the development of eco-citizenship.

Conclusion: The social processes by which eco-citizenship is constructed, and the transformations that take place within families in response to eco-citizen actions, underline the need for practices and lifestyle changes that involve a diverse array of actors, including young people, their families, institutional bodies and policymakers. The scientific community needs to pay more attention to this issue, as literature on the subject is still scarce.

Contribution: In addition to providing some insights into the relationship between the family and eco-citizenship, this article suggests avenues for research in cultural and international contexts, issues of social and environmental justice, and the roles played by media and digital technology in fostering eco-citizenship.

Keywords: family, eco-citizenship, child, youth, ecological practice, lifestyle habits, mobilization, values, educational system, institution

Between Transmission, Conflict, and Transformation: How do Social Relations Influence the Adoption of Energy-Efficient Practices?
Justine Langlois

Research Framework: Energy transition calls for a better understanding of daily practices and routines involved in energy consumption.

Objectives: This article explores the relational dimension of everyday energy practices, and highlights the role played by social relations in transforming these practices.

Methodology: This paper draws on a secondary analysis of qualitative data. The data come from co-design activities around energy savings carried out in the spring of 2021 with thirty-seven participants.

Results: The results illustrate the process of intergenerational transmission and the negotiation of norms surrounding energy consumption within households and show how these exchanges play a direct part in the construction of family and couple life. The results also highlight the limitations contained in the material infrastructure and the tensions between parental and energy-efficient practices.

Conclusions: To contribute to the energy transition, households, especially families, need a high degree of support. Adopting energy-efficient practices requires close collaboration between household members. They also need to be supported by programs and public policies that recognize the disparity of resources available for action, and take into account the diversity of their experiences and needs.

Contribution: This paper contributes to the scientific literature by aiming to develop a better understanding of the role of social interactions in the realization of everyday practices, and in the adoption of sustainable lifestyles.

Keywords: social relation, parenting practices, family dynamics, environment, sustainable consumption

Eco-citizenship Practices in Quebec, a Story of Age and Family
Dominique Morin, Bruno Bourliaguet, Hubert Armstrong, Marie-Andrée Leduc

Research framework : This article presents an analysis of Hydro-Québec residential customers’ responses which asked them to evaluate their household’s situation in terms of various environmental practices, eco-citizenship commitments and other aspects that distinguish their situation from that of other households.

Objectives : To examine whether the occasional or regular practice of actions that can reduce electricity consumption is linked to others eco-citizenship practices. Also, to describe the differences in the integration of these actions into routines and habits, according to the situation of the participant and their household during the stages of adulthood and residential, family and economic trajectories.

Methodology : A multivariate, factorial and classification tree analyses of data from an Internet survey with a probabilistic sample of over 2,200 participants.

Results : In Quebec, electricity-saving practices are statistically linked to water-saving practices, and not to other practices aimed at reducing the harmful effects of consuming material goods. The environmental practices studied generally appear to be more integrated into the daily lives of retired households, and less practised among younger people who work, or living with children or teenagers.

Conclusions : The conclusions underline the value of tracking electricity-saving practices when dressing an overall portrait of eco-citizenship actions. They also discuss our ongoing qualitative study as part of an extension of this research.

Contribution : The article provides a global representation of variations in the practice of the most common environmental actions, paying particular attention to the stages of adulthood and the presence of spouses and children of different ages in the household.

Mots-clés: eco-citizenship, Quebec, generation, life cycle, family, couple, family practices, child, energy transition, territory

Breathe Well at Home: Family Eco-citizenship Through the Prism of the Child’s Chronic Respiratory Disease
Virginie Loizeau

Research framework: For a family, eco-citizenship means among other things adjusting their domestic practices to their desire to act in favor of the environment and the preservation of its resources. In the event of a child’s chronic respiratory illness, parents receive medical recommendations designed to protect his or her health. These recommendations relate to the layout and upkeep of the home, and concern some of these practices.

: This article aims to show how the family redefines its practices by articulating its values related to health and the environment.

Methodology: This research is based on a qualitative study carried out between 2018 and 2020, involving interviews and observations in the homes of 46 families living in Brittany, France, who have a child with cystic fibrosis or asthma. The purpose of the survey was to ethnographically describe domestic hygiene practices, which may stem from values attached to both health and the environment.

Results: This article analyzes the dynamics of change in the family’s ecological domestic practices through the prism of the child’s chronic respiratory illness and its implications. It points out the factors influencing the family’s eco-citizen trajectory in this particular context.

Conclusion: The inflection given to this trajectory depends first and foremost on the family’s ways of being and doing, and the cultural and social context that shapes them. It then relies on the specific characteristics of the disease, the context in which it is treated and the way in which the medical authority integrates environmental issues into its health guidelines.

Contribution: This article looks at children’s chronic respiratory illness as one of the key factors in the construction of a family’s eco-citizenship and its practical implementation. It questions the medical establishment as to how it takes into account environmental values in a perspective of family’s quality of life.

Mots-clés: child, family, home, chronic illness, respiratory health, sanitary standards, environment, eco-citizenship

Families at the Heart of Students’ Eco-citizenship Participation: Between Discomfort and Collaboration
Geneviève Grégoire-Labrecque

Research framework: In the era of climate change, education systems are investing in the creation of educational content to raise awareness among their students and create new behaviors with the idea that they will be passed on to their families (Phoenix et al., 2017).

Objectives: This article aims to show how families find themselves at the heart of the mobilization of students committed to environmental action, and of the school’s mission to raise awareness and implement eco-citizenship practices.

Methodology: This doctoral research is based on a year-long data collection combining participant observation, focus groups and semi-structured interviews with students and school staff involved in a Green Committee and an Environment and Urban Agriculture program in two Montreal high schools (Quebec, Canada).

Results: On the one hand, parents and families are the target of eco-educational content to advance the environmental cause outside of school. On the other hand, their status as “young people” leads students to ask their parents and families for help in acting as ambassadors with institutions, including the school, to improve the impact of their environmental actions. In both cases, the responsibility of rallying families to the environmental cause lies with the students.

Conclusions: Through the concepts of agency and youth participation, these results show how the schools’ relationship with eco-citizenship fails to take into account the complexity of young people agency, the need for collective action, students’ family contexts, as well as the notion of transformative participation to facilitate, and even amplify young people’s involvement with the environment.

Contribution: This study helps to better understand the young person as an agent of information, mobilization and action both inside and outside the school.

Mots-clés: adolescent, family, agency, citizenship, child participation, school, environnement

Children’s (Im)mobilization in Environmental Transmission of “Outdoor School”
Sophie Nemoz

Research Framework: The contemporary challenges of ecocitizenship are so acute that they will require a strong involvement from the youngest generations. In the 21st century, as a number of research has confirmed, the question of socialization between school, family, and the legacy of environmentalism arises.

Objective: If the environmental mobilization of children still raises questions, this article offers to deepen the inquiry with them in different settings where they experience through pedagogical initiative of non-classroom-based lessons, known as “outdoor school”.

Methodology: Using mixed research methods (observations, interviews, questionnaires), the survey deploys a path-based approach, following 21 pupils aged 9 to 12 years, as well as their teachers, parents, and peers, throughout the 2021-2022 school year in a community known locally as “the nature village of Doubs”.

Results: Through a situational study of transmission processes, this article analyzes the ambivalence of children’s mobilization, describing the dynamics, inversions and inertia of modes of self-expression, family and participation in school and social life.

Conclusion: This article puts into perspective the ways of “outdoor school” within hierarchical social relations, and the extent to which they assign to children the task of leading ecological reform by transforming their lifestyles.

Contribution: This research situates the complex role of the institution played by the “outdoor school” in the development of child ecocitizenship. It remains anchored in a stratification of life stages where commitment to ecological gestures and meanings is embedded in processes of reproduction of social groups and families.

Mots-clés: environment, socialization, child, school, family

Paternal Roles Scale: Links with Vulnerability Factors among Quebec Fathers
Y-Lane Noémie Zaine, Elizabeth Charbonneau, Denisa Maria Cindea, Émilie Fontaine, Anne-Sophie Dorion, Guadalupe Puentes-Neuman

Research Framework: In recent decades, the paternal role has undergone major changes. Fathers are more involved in the upbringing and care of their children. It is important to identify how paternal roles influence fathers’ behaviors in their daily lives. However, there is currently no tool to measure these roles in Quebec. Recent research (Lacharité, 2020) also suggests that fathers’ perception of their role may be related to a lack of gratification, feelings of parenting competence and parental stress, known as vulnerability factors, inherent to being a father.

Objectives: The aim of this study is to develop an instrument to measure the fathers’ perception of their parental role. This research also examines the links between paternal roles and ordinary vulnerability factors.

Methodology: The Paternal Roles Scale was developed on the basis of a preliminary qualitative study exploring the perception of the paternal role among fathers of school-aged children (Caty, 2020). To this end, 462 Quebec fathers with at least one child aged 0 to 12 answered an online survey.

Results: An exploratory factor analysis reveals four paternal roles: transmission, discipline, engagement, and stimulation. Pearson correlation analysis reveals significant links between paternal roles and vulnerability factors.

Conclusions: Based on the subjective discourse of fathers, the Paternal Roles Scale is an accurate measurement tool.

Contribution: This study contributes to the understanding of the plurality of roles perceived by fathers and the links between these roles and the vulnerability factors that can influence their experience.

Keywords: paternity, role, measurement, vulnerability

New Technologies Supporting the Grandparent Relationship during the Grandchild’s First Years of Life
Paul Hayotte, Liesette Brunson

Research framework: While the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is ubiquitous in family relationships, little is known about their place in the grandparental relationship, especially during grandchildren’s first years of life.

Objectives: The aim of this research is to understand how grandparents describe and conceptualize the use of ICTs within their relationship with a grandchild aged five years old or younger. We also examine grandparents’ perspectives on the advantages and limitations of using ICTs in the grandparental relationship.

Method: This research was part of a mixed-method study. Grandparents living in Quebec (Canada) who participated in a larger quantitative survey were selected for semi-structured interviews based on diverse patterns of ICT use in interactions with one of their grandchildren aged five or under.

Results: Grandparents described ICTs as offering opportunities to strengthen their relationship with their grandchild. ICTs enabled them to consolidate the bonds with their grandchild by offering new intergenerational interactions as a complement to their in-person interactions. The use of ICTs seemed to be dependent on the family ecology.

Conclusions: When used, ICTs can foster the grandparent relationship by offering ways of interacting that are complementary to in-person interactions. ICTs were not only used out of necessity by grandparents who lived far from their grandchild, but also as a choice by those who lived nearby. ICT use helped to strengthen the sense of closeness that grandparents feel towards their grandchild.

Contribution: This article offers insights into the role of ICTs in creating and maintaining the grandparental relationship during early childhood. It suggests practices that may help to foster this relationship.

Mots-clés: grandparents, early childhood, intergenerational relationships, communication technology

Together in Resistance: The Internet as a Space for Destigmatizing Childfree People in India
Rojin Sadeghi

Research Framework: In the Indian context, the study of non-parenthood has long been approached only from the angle of infertility, itself associated with poor living conditions affecting reproductive health. However, recent studies suggest a shift within the childless population, with a growing proportion of individuals renouncing parenthood. To this day, their experiences are still rarely studied.

Objectives : Our research examines the role of the Internet and social media as a space for negotiating the identity of childfree people. We analyze how these individuals construct a counter-discourse to the dominant norms and identify the strategies put in place to resist them.

Methodology: Data are extracted from the ChildfreeIndia subreddit, an online platform allowing interactions between childfree individuals. Valence and thematic analysis are both employed to examine the posts and/or comments available on the group. The results are discussed in the light of theories of stigmatization and resistance.

Results: The group discussions are characterized by their benevolence. Four main themes were explored: partner, reasons for not wanting children, negative consequences of being childfree, and sterilization. Identity work and resistance in social interactions are the two types of strategies used to counteract procreative normativity.

Conclusion : The development of a collective identity and the exchange of interactional strategies are central to managing and resisting stigmatization. These practices are transformative and provide members with legitimacy and empowerment.

Contribution : Adding to the limited body of literature on people who forgo parenthood in the world’s most populous country, our research focuses more broadly on understanding the experiences of childfree people and whether/how they can manage or even resist stigmatization.

Mots-clés: desire for a child, childfree, India, social media, stigma, Internet, childless, Reddit, resistance, sentiment analysis, thematic analysis

To be “alone in the driver’s seat”: MAR’s solo journey in France
Virginie Rozée, Hélène Malmanche

Research Framework: In 2021, medically assisted reproduction (MAR) was opened up to all women in France. The debates that preceded the revision of the law made a new family configuration visible: solo maternity. While studies in other countries have been looking at these maternities since the 2000s, they remain little documented in France.

Objectives: The aim is to analyze the profiles and trajectories of women who decide to become solo mothers using MAR.

Methodology: As part of the Outside-ART post-survey, semi-structured interviews were carried out in 2022 with 25 women living in France who said they had undergone or were in the process of undergoing solo MAR, either at home or abroad.

Results: As in previous studies, recourse to solo MAR often appears to be a second-intention choice for women closer to their forties. However, a new profile is emerging: that of younger women for whom this recourse is an immediate choice. Whether it’s a “plan A” or a “plan B”, these women want to emancipate themselves from the traditional family, which they see marked by inequality. Their plans are meticulously prepared, but they are a few grey areas. The MAR process for future solo mothers remains difficult, because they are regularly reminded of the gendered order of the family and parenthood.

Conclusion: In France, the MAR process, historically designed for heterosexual couples, is slowly being adapted to the specificities of solo journeys. Despite social and legal changes, the weight of gender norms governing the family remains strong, even within the medical community.

Contribution: This article contributes to a better understanding of the parental projects and MAR journeys of future solo mothers in the French context.

Mots-clés: medically assisted reproduction, motherhood, parenthood, heteronormativity, sperm donation