Économie et Statistique n° 393-394 - 2006Life Story survey
Family roles and identity
Family role identities are extremely diverse and develop throughout life. A person's identity as a partner is more or less the same at any age. However, a person's identity as a father or mother greatly diminishes with age, whilst identifying oneself as a grandfather or grandmother is more common if living alone. The multiple family role identities are in fact linked to the diversity of family situations. However, there is no noticeable hierarchical organisation of family roles in close-knit families. Certain roles, such as that of parents, come higher up than others: seven in ten parents identify themselves as father or mother. Yet, when one person has several competing roles, personal identity construction becomes a more complex process. This is when other elements from outside the family come into play, such as work, leisure time and friends. Out of all the individuals questioned aged 18 and over, four in ten replied that they were «just a man/a woman» when they were asked to choose from amongst their different family roles. This form of identification is particularly common amongst young people still living with their parents and is most often associated with forms of identity based on their social links outside of the family, such as work, leisure time and friends.