Vulnerability, Intergenerational Exchange and the Conscience of Generations

  • Nick Emmel
  • Kahryn Hughes
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


In this chapter, we are concerned with grandparents between 35 and 55 years old. The grandparents’ experiences reported here are all firmly positioned in a group recently labelled the precariat (Standing 2011); a group churning between low-paid low-skilled employment, underemployment and unemployment (Shildrick et al. 2012) and characterized by high levels of insecurity on all measures of economic, social and cultural capital (Savage et al. 2013). This is a relatively large social class and our focus in this chapter is an important minority of excluded low-income grandparents and their families. Grandparents in the UK are getting older, reflecting increasing life expectancies. There are, however, approximately 1.5 million grandparents under the age of 50 years. Furthermore, investigation by Grandparents Plus (2009) of the difference in age of grandparents reveals important divergence between socioeconomic groups. Women from a working-class background are four times more likely to become a grandmother before their 50th birthday when compared with middle-class groups.


Black Hole Service Provider Social Institution Teenage Pregnancy Child Poverty 
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© Nick Emmel and Kahryn Hughes 2014

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  • Nick Emmel
  • Kahryn Hughes

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