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photo of Linn alenius wallin by theo hagman rogowski

Linn Alenius Wallin

Doctoral student

photo of Linn alenius wallin by theo hagman rogowski

Negotiations of step-grandparenting


  • Linn Alenius Wallin

Summary, in English

Almost half of all divorced Swedes today are aged 60+ and many of them are, or have been, a part of a reconstituted family (Bildtgård & Öberg 2014). This means that the probability of having step-grandchildren increases in a life cycle perspective. For those who have never had neither children nor stepchildren, a sibling's or a friend's grandchild can have the same meaning as a step-grandchild.

To become and to be a step-grandparent is complex and involves a lot of consideration. For some step-grandparents the birth of a step-grandchild can be a chance to finely be seen as a “real” grandparent by being there “from the start”. For others it commenced the negotiation between many peoples different needs and to strive to make space for themselves.

Gender, class, age and health are of importance for what role someone can take in step-relations. Relationship patterns, along with doings of care from other periods in life, provide different conditions: for those who have provided care their entire life (paid and unpaid) it can be demanding, for others the relationship can be seen as an opportunity. What if you experience your partner's grandchildren as more of a burden than a bonus?

This dissertation project is based on in-depth interviews with 13 step-grandchildren, age 5-19 and 12 step-grandparents aged 65-83. Theoretically, the dissertation is based on family as a doings (Morgan, 2011) and the theory of personal life (Smart, 2007).

The narratives of the different interviewees show a number of ways of making step-relationships, and expose gendered norms and ideals about care and interventions between generations. The stories shows opportunities and limitations, as well as pinpoint fragility and difficulties in both step- and bio-relationships.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • step-grandparenting
  • step-grandparent
  • negotiations

Conference name

Myths and Realities of the Nordic Welfare State

Conference date

2022-08-10 - 2022-08-12

Conference place

Reykjavik, Iceland