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Norwegian elderly people today are clearly more aware of public help and services compared to the late 1960s, and a growing number of them prefer public rather than family help. A study in Oslo found that a majority would turn to the public services when in need of long-term help, even when children were living close by. Children or other informal helpers were preferred over the public services only when there was a need for short-term assistance. The growing preference for public help is taken primarily as a response to increased availability of public services, and not as a reflection of weaker inter-generational solidarity.
Despite major shifts in the position of older people in British society during the first half of the twentieth century, accounts of the emergence of retirement pensions have ignored the role of old age pressure groups, preferring arguments which emphasise structured dependency rather than human agency. By contrast, this paper examines the political campaigns mounted by two groups – one claiming to speak on behalf of older people, the other composed of older people themselves. The failure of both groups to influence major policy decisions relates not to the passivity or ‘silent suffering’ of older people, or to ‘generational equity’ criteria which privileged younger, unemployed workers, but to the inadequacies of their different styles of campaigning. While the National Conference, in the decade after 1916, focused their moral invective around notions of thrift which failed to arouse or articulate the needs of all but the most ‘respectable aged Britishers’, the uncompromising, combative approach of the National Federation during the critical years leading up to the Beveridge legislation incurred the disdain of policymakers. In the intervening years, trade union activity was underlain by mixed motives. While the historical specificity of the movements and debates that are discussed is significant, the generationally specific lifetime experiences of the older people in question to some extent determined their character.
This paper examines the prevalence, inter-relationships and correlates of various forms of self, informal and formal care. Analyses of data drawn from a random sample of 743 non-institutionalised elderly individuals living in Winnipeg, Manitoba reveal similarities as well as differences among the three types of care. Self- and formal care are somewhat similar, being positively related and having similar correlates. Nevertheless, substitutability as a consequence of medical scepticism is also evident. Both are unrelated to informal care. It is poor health in the form of functional disability and the availability of support through the marital relationship which are the strongest correlates of informal care. In contrast, health (chronic conditions and perceived health status) as well as beliefs in the efficacy of both preventative health behaviours and medical services are among the strongest correlates of self- and formal care.
Drawing on a qualitative study of thirty-two women aged between 35 and 85, this paper links women's experiences of giving and receiving care in the informal sphere to their wider social and ideological context. While subjects subscribed to cultural assumptions about families, responsibility, gender and old age, they experienced awkwardness in translating them into their own lives. Younger women and women looking back on their middle years experienced contradiction between the cultural expectation that they be responsive to others and their wishes for self-enhancement. Older women experienced contradiction between the cultural imperative to be unburdensome and independent and their wish for security. Feelings of guilt and shame were associated with not living up to these expectations. They rendered subjects' concerns, individual failings and stifled expression of their needs. To facilitate such expression and work towards social policies that enhance women over the life course, it will be necessary to envision alternative types of supportive services and to challenge the ideological barriers to their use that the subjects of this study had so acutely internalised.
Leisure research among the elderly has not kept pace with its significance in their lives. While the centrality of work is often discussed, a comparable role for leisure is seldom acknowledged. Through a blending of life-course and structural-level perspectives this paper discusses the need for conceptual innovation in leisure research. A broader perspective on the nature of leisure, its structure and the emerging need to address leisure as a form of consumption is advocated. Recognition of the identity-affirming nature of leisure and consumption will greatly enhance the focus of leisure research.