Eric D. Widmer

Widmer, E.D., Kellerhals, J., Levy, R. (2006). What pluralization of family relations ? Conflicts, conjugal interaction styles and social milieu. Revue française de Sociologie, vol. 47, n° 5, pp. 131-156.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of studies brought to light a variety of family interaction styles characteristic of contemporary societies. Which of them have lasted? How are they related to the social structure? What problems and conflicts are they likely to bring about? This article aims to answer those questions on the basis of a large representative sample indicating couples’ social and generational characteristics. Five styles were empirically identified, associated with sharply varied frequency levels for problems and open conflict. Prevalent conjugal conflict coincides with a strong tendency for spouse or partner autonomy, sex-differentiated roles, and couple self-enclosure. These results are largely due to the differential effect of the conflict-management modes inherent in the various interaction styles, these in turn influenced by couples’ social characteristics and position. No increasing standardization of conjugal interaction modes was observed; indeed, advanced modernity seems characterized instead by several fairly distinct models highly dependent on position in the social structure.

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