Interrelations between personal networks and doing family in life events within military families: case of lithuania

Vida Česnuitytė


The research idea was inspired by the theoretical approaches of family practices (Morgan, 1996; 2011), and doing family (Smart, 2007). According to authors, family practices create family. Lack of the latter cause emotional distance in relationships among family members. That is, for creation of stable ties, family practices like daily routines, festivities and other are necessary. On the other hand, last few decades are marked by diversification of familial ties. Numerous researches, based on open concept of family, revealed that families recently consist not only from members of nuclear and extended families, but, also, include persons beyond such ties. According to mentioned theoretical approaches, family practices involve members of personal networks who sometimes are called as family members even blood or marriage relationships not exist among them, and this way they are doing family. Moreover, various life events summon different persons, and generate different personal and familial networks. The research aim is to explore interrelations between personal networks and doing family in key life events within military families. The problem is that professional military career is full of constant change: everyday life of soldiers is intertwined with rotation / deployment, trainings, and international missions abroad. Meanwhile, their family members often are forced to live in a distance, and have limited possibilities to communicate with member – military professional. The main research question is how doing of personal and familial networks interrelate with family practices in various life events related to professional military career? The research is based on data collected by the sociologists of General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania. Two quantitative surveys conducted in 2015: (a) survey of military professionals who spent some time in military missions abroad, and (b) survey of their wives. Sample size of the first is 588 respondents, and sample size of the second is 122 respondents. A standardized questionnaires applied in both surveys. Later in the same year, qualitative data collected by application of in-depth semi-structures interviews. In total, 17 interviews conducted. For definition of family in the research, open concept of family applied. The research results revealed, that military professionals, usually, focus on rather limited and defined personal network consisting from nuclear family plus friends – also military professionals. Configurations of personal networks of spouses and children of military professionals is determined by the life events in the career of the military professional, and often is in conflict with individual needs of spouses and children. In daily life, as well, rotation / deployment, personal networks are, mostly, involved into family practices related to functional, instrumental, and emotional support. Meanwhile, during trainings and international missions abroad, members of personal networks additionally are involved into family practices related to emotional and functional support.

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