The dyad is not enough

Third-party mediation as a precondition for cohesion in long-term step relationships




life course, linked lives, mediating relationships, older step-parents, step relationships


The increasing prevalence of ageing stepfamilies and the potential of stepchildren to act as a source of support for older parents have increased the interest in long-term intergenerational step relationships. Applying a life-course perspective combined with Simmel’s theorizing on social dynamics, this exploratory study aims to investigate the preconditions for cohesion in long-term intergenerational step relationships. The study is based on interviews with 13 older parents, aged 66–79, who have raised both biological children and stepchildren. Retrospective life-course interviews were used to capture the development of step relationships over time. Interviews were analysed following the principles of analytical induction. The results reveal four central third-party relationships that are important for cohesion in intergenerational step relationships over time, involving: (1) the intimate partner; (2) the non-residential parent; (3) the bridge child; and (4) the stepchild-in-law. The findings have led to the conclusion that if we are to understand the unique conditions for cohesion in long-term intergenerational step relationships, we cannot simply compare biological parent–child dyads with step dyads, because the step relationship is essentially a mediated relationship.




Referera så här

Bildtgård, Torbjörn, Marianne Winqvist, och Peter Öberg. 2021. ”The Dyad Is Not Enough: Third-Party Mediation As a Precondition for Cohesion in Long-Term Step Relationships”. Sociologisk Forskning 58 (3):217–242.




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