Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Siblings as Overlooked Potential for Care and Support Across Households and Borders

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Abstract:  The growing numbers of Lithuanian families living across borders have prompted the reflection on family relations through the lens of the need for care and support of dependent children and elderly parents. The authors of this article expand the analysis of family lives in the migration context beyond child–parent relationships and shift the attention to understudied areas where sibling relationships are located. Sibling relationships are considered embedded within the family and the wider network of personal relationships. This article builds on the personal networks approach to examine the position of siblings in the personal networks of Lithuanian family members and draws on a toolbox of analytical concepts provided by the solidarity approach to disclose how sibling relationships could come into play in the case of need. The analysis of statistical data and two surveys carried out in Lithuania as part of the research project funded by the Research Council of Lithuania enabled the authors to uncover different layers of involvement of siblings in “doing families” across households and borders and to highlight the gendered patterns of support expectations towards siblings if/when the need of elderly or child care would arise in the migration context. The research data provide empirical evidence that sibling relationships could be affected by differentiated mobility experiences of family members and the re‐definition of family roles due to newly emerging multi‐local interactions. Cross‐border family practices create new patterns of family relationships and an “intimate, but different” type of solidarity, common to Lithuanian residents with prior migration experience.

Keywords:  intergenerational solidarity; migration; personal networks; siblings; support expectations; support flows; transnational families


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© Irma Budginaite-Mackine, Irena Juozeliuniene. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.