Solidarity As An Indicator Of Family Loyalty
The concept of family solidarity or cohesion, as proposed by Vern Bengtson and his colleagues (1985), has been the source of many intergenerational family relations studies on familism over the past two decades. This view of family relations provides an important framework for understanding the roots of familism—the factors that contribute to the maintenance and/or development of loyalty within families.
Emotional closeness between parents and children and its impact on the quality of the parent-child bond is explored in research into the "intergenerational stake" (Bengtson and Kuypers 1971; Bond and Harvey 1991) and "intergenerational solidarity" (Bengtson and Schrader 1982; Roberts and Bengtson 1990). For example, the intergenerational stake hypothesis explores the cross-generational nature of emotional closeness between parents and children. The hypothesis holds that: (1) parents' descriptions of the relationship will be more positive than children's; and (2) different levels of investment and development may account for these variances in relationship perceptions. The intergenerational solidarity model goes a step further, looking at emotional closeness or "affect" between parents and children as just one of six indicators of solidarity or integration between generations in a family.
In a study examining the relationship between acculturation and family solidarity in Hispanic-American families, Julian Montoro-Rodriguez and Karl Kosloski (1998) find that for two dimensions of attitudinal familism (familial obligation and support from relatives), acculturation is positively related to familism. This means, contrary to assimilationist perspectives on family ties, that as Hispanic Americans become acculturated to the dominant Anglo culture, they continue to maintain and further develop loyalty to their families. That is, familism persists over time despite changes in, for example, language proficiency and preference, and ethnic origin of friends.
Further, Jeff Burr and Jan Mutchler (1999), in a study on ethnic variations and changing norms of filial responsibility among older adults, conclude that older Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than their non-Hispanic white counterparts to concur with the statement that each generation should provide assistance with living arrangements (e.g., coresidence) when needed. The likelihood that this attitude, an indicator of family loyalty, will translate into actual behavior, however, may be, as the solidarity model points out, dependent on a number of other factors, such as the level of emotional closeness between parent and child and the ability of children or parents to provide such support.
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