Eric D. Widmer
Widmer, E.D., Aeby, G. et Sapin, M. (2013). Collecting Family Network Data. International Review of Sociology . Vol. 23, n° 1, pp. 27-46.

Contemporary family contexts are characterized by a complex web of relationships, which goes beyond the household boundaries. Indeed, individuals develop meaningful relationships with non-residential family members, close friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. Unfortunately, most surveys dealing with family ties focus on households and study a few dyads, mainly couple and parent–child relationships. This contribution addresses the use of social network methods for the understanding of the social matrix of family interdependencies in which individuals are embedded. Social network methods broaden the definition of family by starting with the individuals’ own definition of their meaningful family context. They also allow the mapping of family networks based on the interdependencies existing among all family members. This contribution describes the use of social network methods in relation to three main settings: individuals in national representative surveys, individuals facing a family recomposition after divorce, and individuals in psychotherapy. In the light of the pluralization of life trajectories and the individualization of personal relationships, the proposed approach may significantly contribute to the understanding of the relationships that matter for individuals in contemporary societies, and of the creation of family-based social capital.

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