2.5 Family Members Stimulating Community Involvement

Project info

Aim of the project: To explain the extent and under which conditions family characteristics affect prosocial behavior. Prosocial behavior includes individual voluntary activities for the broader community, such as caring for elderly or disabled people, participation in pro-environmental activities, or voluntary work in an organization. The aim is to track conditions in the family domain that have spill-over effects to these prosocial behaviors.
Project start
End date
Behavioral theory
  • Identities
  • Networks
Radboud University
Radboud University
Radboud University
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
  • Psychology
  • Public Policy
  • Sociology
  • Governmental policymakers
  • Organisation science
  • Policy advisors
  • Sociology
Work package
  • Care
Sustainability threat
  • Spillovers
  • Facilitating work life balance
Theoretical background
Processes of individualization usually underscore an increased focus on individual well-being, rather than on the functioning or well-being of communities/societies. Current developments in Dutch policy however emphasize the need for a reversal of this trend: in current-day society, people are expected to actively engage in societal organizations, and to provide care for close-relatives in need. More generally speaking: there is a demand for more sustainable prosocial behavior. We argue that family characteristics are key in understanding why some people show more social behavior than others. Theoretically, the family (parents, partners, children) provides relevant resources and restrictions that set the conditions under which community involvement may be nurtured. We expect that spillover mechanisms play a role in the extent to which a person is active to the good of community, indicated by (i) time resources, (ii) economic opportunities, (iii) normative guidance and (iv) family identities. Time availability depends on the contribution to paid labor and housework by a person, and a possible partner. Economic resources are typically pooled in the household. Normative guidance stems from socialization processes (i.e., in the family of origin) and normative influence by important others, notably the partner. Family identity characteristics relate to the way of relation to other family members. Institutional conditions may affect the ways in which families are able to perform in the social domain.
Research design
Firstly, the Family Survey Dutch Population of 2000, 2009 and 2017 will be used, that contain information on both partners’ time investments in paid work and household work, income, family of origin, civic engagement, and prosocial behavior. Secondly, an experiment will be implemented in the LISS-panel or SCOOP-survey to test the importance of family factors for community involvement. Thirdly, panel studies from other nations are available (GSOEP, Pairfam, BHPS), and EU-SILC data may be used to deal with country’s institutional contexts possibly influencing ways in which family members are able to provide solidarity to community.
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