...Well, the ties will slowly start breaking down I would think. The responsibility, well the responsibility won't be broken at all.' For some time access to publicly provided services has been shrinking and governments have been emphasising the family as the first line of support, but how far do such policies accord with what people will provide for their relatives, and with contemporary ideas about what it is proper to expect from family members? Negotiating Family Responsibilities examines patterns of support (both practical and financial) between adult members of family and kin groups, and focuses upon ideas about responsibility, duty and obligation within families and how far these underpin the support actually given. Negotiating Family Responsibilities provides a fascinating insight into contemporary family life, particularly kin relationships outside the nuclear family. While many people believe that the real meaning of 'family' has shrunk to the nuclear family household, there is considerable evidence to suggest that relationships with the wider kin group remain an important part of most people's lives.
Based on the findings of a major study of kinship, and including lively verbatim accounts of conversations with family members, concepts of responsibility and obligation within family life are examined. The authors expand theories on the nature of assistance within families. They maintain that the family does remain an important source of support for many people and that such assistance is treated as a characteristic part of family life.