Wray, Sharon (2013) Exploring grand mothering across ethnic and cultural diversity. In: Third International Conference on Aging and Society, 8th-9th November 2013, Chicago, Illinois, USA. (Unpublished)

There are 14 million grandparents in the UK and the majority of these are aged 65 and over (Grandparents Plus, 2011). However this population is diverse in relation to for example age, ethnicity, social and economic class, and sexuality. Yet there remains a lack of research examining the diversity represented within the grand parenting role. The majority of research available is American and has focused on grand parenting in relation to; changing family structures, functional roles and responsibilities, intergenerational reciprocity, and welfare needs. This has provided useful insight into the experience of grand parenting but tells us little about the UK context. However, it has also been criticised for inadequate theoretical and conceptual development. One example of this is the limited theorisation of how axes of identity such as age, religion, ethnicity, and gender, interconnect with and shape the grandmother-grandchild relationship. Further development of this could offer new ways of thinking about generational ties. Drawing on an ESRC funded qualitative research study on quality of life this presentation will explore the experiences of older grandmothers from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It seeks to contribute to the development of a conceptual framework that is able to capture and theorise diverse experiences of this role. A key argument is that culture, religion, family structure, and tradition, influence both what it means to be a grandmother and the enactment of the grandmother-grandchild relationship.

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