Mapping the Plurality of Personal Configurations

Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


The aim of this chapter is to map the variety of personal configurations by focusing on personal ties regarded as important. The configurational perspective emphasizes the inclusion of different kinds of close ties that go beyond kin, co-residence, and genealogical proximity in personal relationships. In order to identify the diversity of arrangements, we present a typology of personal configurations and compare their importance across three different countries, controlling for individuals’ position in social and family structures. Results show that while the family of procreation and parents are important overall, there are different patterns of sociability across countries: more inclusive of extended kin in Portugal, more inclusive of non-kin (friends) in Switzerland, and more focused on the nuclear family in Lithuania.


Personal configurations Personal relationships Family Kinship Non-kin Friendship Comparative analysis Portugal Switzerland Lithuania 



The authors of the chapter wish to acknowledge sponsors that made it possible to carry out this investigation, the results of which are presented in the chapter. In Switzerland, the research was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES Overcoming Vulnerability: Life-Course Perspectives. In Portugal, the research was carried out within the national survey, “Family Trajectories and Social Networks”, coordinated by Professor K. Wall from the Institute of Social Sciences (ICS) from the University of Lisbon. In Lithuania, the research was carried out based on data collected within the research project, “Trajectories of Family Models and Personal Networks: Intergenerational Perspective”, coordinated by V. Kanopiené from Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania) and funded by Research Council of Lithuania.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Course and Inequality Research CentreUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Sociological Research LaboratoryMykolas Romeris UniversityVilniusLithuania
  4. 4.Institute of Social Sciences (ICS)University of GenevaLisbonPortugal

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