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Using a sample of 757 middle-aged and older residents of the Atlanta metropolitan region, the relationship between primary group contact and morale was investigated. Controlling on sex and dependency, it was found that interaction with children had a negative impact on the morale of dependent, older males. This finding was explained in terms of the power-dependence relationships that exist within the family. It was argued that visits with children and grandchildren are perceived by the dependent older male as a drama in which the ascending generations legitimate their claims to leadership through a gradual process of situation redefinition. One manifest result of having to cede control to his middle-aged offspring is lower morale.


Originally published in:

James J. Dowd and Ralph LaRossa. "Primary Group Contact and Elderly Morale: An Exchange/Power Analysis," Sociology and Social Research, 1982, vol. 66, pp. 184-197.

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