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Social Context, Culture and gender Roles: A Systemic Approach to the Study of Relational Patterns and Difficulties within Relationships in the case of Ethnically Mixed Couples


Research objectives and content

Biculturality becomes a predominant feature in the European setting. Open frontiers foster the emergence of new forms of living together; forms such as ethnically mixed couples, when partners choose to live at the country of origin of one of the partners. The difficulties in forming mixed couples and the linkage between specific types of such difficulties to the emergence of psychological distress have often been pointed out. Systems theory, in it's early days when Communication theory was developed, pointed out how difficulties within relationships link with difficulties in the definition of the relationship. Central to any definition of a couple's relationship is the organisation of the male and female roles. Traditionally, roles have been approached in relation to the functions they serve for the society and gender has been considered as the major factor contributing to their organisation. Latest developments within the field of Systems theory have emphasised the contribution of several factors, such as gender and culture and the particular context in which a relationship is developed, which dynamically participate in the construction of relationships and difficulties within the relationships. The present study by selecting the special case of ethnically mixed couples attempts a systemic approach, consistent with such latest developments in the field, to the study of gender roles and the possible difficulties emerging within the context of such relationships (having a culturally mixed background).

Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)

The study aims at providing useful implications both on theory and on clinical practice so as to contribute to the development of models of therapy which will be le to attend to the dynamic transformations emerging more and more in the formation of the relationships, due to the mixing between different cultural backgrounds. The project will also lead to a PhD in the field of Family therapy, which will contribute to the applicant's scientific development.

Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


Institute of Psychiatry
De Crespigny Park, Camberwell
SE5 8AF London
United Kingdom