Sociological ambivalence revisited


Hillcoat-Nalletamby S & Phillips J (2011) Sociological ambivalence revisited. Sociology, 45 (2), pp. 202-217.

The concept of ambivalence has received limited attention from contemporary sociologists, notably because of its association with psychoanalysis and psychology and their emphasis on individual experience in isolation from the broader social and cultural contexts to which people belong. This article revisits the concept by placing it within a framework of relational sociology with the purpose of strengthening its conceptual foundations as a sociological construct. We illustrate the foundations of this framework through analysis of narratives collected as part of the project ‘Old age and autonomy: The role of service systems and intergenerational family solidarity’, involving interviews with adult children and their ageing parents engaged in informal caring relationships. Viewed through a relational lens, ambivalence can be reconceptualized as having both temporal and transformative properties and as the product of complex relational experiences existing within a wider web of interdependent social relationships.

informal caring relationships; older adults; relational sociology; sociological ambivalence

Sociology: Volume 45, Issue 2

Publication date30/04/2011
Date accepted by journal01/07/2010