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In India, families are mandated to take care of their older members (Rajan and Mishra, 2011). The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007) states that parents, grandparents and ‘childless’ older people who are unable to maintain themselves are entitled to demand and receive income, care and support from children, grandchildren and other relatives who have sufficient resources. Cases (where support is not forthcoming) can be taken to tribunal and can result in the issue of maintenance orders with penalties for non-compliance including fines and imprisonment. Thus, there is a reliance on informal social protection, that is, support from kin. However, changes in family structures, family values, migration of family members and a rise in the number of women working outside the home can put increasing strain on families to provide support. Traditional forms of solidarity and collectivism are eroded by market economies: increasing monetisation impacts on forms of reciprocity (Norton et al, 2001), and requirement for a responsive mobile labour force impacts on availability of caregivers (Himmelweit, 2007, Rishworth and Elliott, 2018). Therefore, it is important to challenge the ‘realities’ of family support systems which may not be as robust as portrayed by policy makers.
Social protection should provide ‘a set of public programs designed to mitigate or cope with the adverse effects of risks to income security and physical well-being’ (Kapur and Nangia, 2015, p 75). Therefore, in India, we would expect to find welfare policies and programmes that protect individuals against shocks to assets across the life course, and plug any gaps in kin support in later life which may include options to relocate to a care home. However, little is known about older people's decision-making around care and support in later life. This chapter draws on data from 30 in-depth interviews with older male and female residents of nine care homes in three districts of Tamil Nadu and addresses the following questions: i) what are the decision-making routes leading to relocation to a care home? and ii) how does culture and the political economy influence the care choices available to older people?
This study explored the coping strategies and social comparisons used by older adults on different loneliness trajectories (decreased loneliness, stable loneliness and degenerating loneliness). The adaptive consequences of social comparison in later life are recognised as an important strategy for preserving life satisfaction regardless of age-related losses. Coping strategies are also important in managing loneliness. Narrative interviews were conducted with lonely older adults (N = 11) who had participated in Wave One of the Maintaining Function and Well-being in Later Life Study Wales (CFAS Wales). The study found key differences in the coping strategies employed by older adults on different loneliness trajectories. Differences in coping styles between those who reported decreased loneliness and those who were chronically lonely stemmed from perceptions as to whether loneliness was modifiable or not. Different types of social comparison were also found to modulate the loneliness experience. The findings indicate that higher-order strategies (problem, emotional and meaning focused) are not distinct entities but are part of a dynamic process. The management of loneliness in later life may be dependent on several factors, including older adults’ interpretations of the cause of loneliness. These interpretations will have implications for interventions aimed at alleviating chronic loneliness, where the focus may have to be on changing older adult's perceptions of unmodifiable loneliness.
This article tests the fit of a social support network typology developed for collectivist cultures to six migrant populations living in England and Wales. We examine the predictive utility of the typology to identify networks most vulnerable to poor quality of life and loneliness. Variables representing network size, and the proportion of the network classified by gender, age, kin and proximity, were used in confirmatory and exploratory latent profile analysis to fit models to the data (N = 815; Black African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese). Multinomial logistic regression examined associations between demographic variables and network types. Linear regression examined associations between network types and wellbeing outcomes. A four-profile model was selected. Multigenerational Household: Younger Family networks were most robust with lowest levels of loneliness and greatest quality of life. Restricted Non-kin networks were least robust. Multigenerational Household: Younger Family networks were most prevalent for all but the Black Caribbean migrants. The typology is able to differentiate between networks with multigenerational households and can help identify vulnerable networks. There are implications for forecasting formal services and variation in networks between cultures. The use of a culturally appropriate typology could impact on the credibility of gerontological research.
The first project-based book in The New Dynamics of Ageing series offers a unique interdisciplinary perspective on older people’s role as assets in rural civic society. The authors examine the ways in which rural elders are connected to community, the contributions they make and the groups to which they belong.
The way in which people connect with each other in particular places (such as rural areas) has been discussed and evaluated in many different ways. The dominant contemporary characterisation among policymakers and politicians the world over tends to be a functionalist one: people connecting together offer great potential for social integration, the development of collective values and social cohesion (Forrest and Kearns, 2001; Wilkinson, 2008). It is assumed that stronger integration and greater social cohesion will make society a better place (Jaffe and Quark, 2006). In relation to older people, this rationale is reflected, for example, in the national strategy on ageing for the UK (HM Government, 2009), which promotes building links between people of different generations as a means of strengthening bonds within communities. Governments produce guidance manuals on how to promote a sense of belonging in local communities (Department of Communities and Local Government, 2009) and government agencies develop measures to show how well connected communities are, with variables relating to trusting people, helping in the community, volunteering and generally being good citizens (Grootaert et al, 2004; Economic and Social Data Service, 2011).
This notion of social connectivity is a useful one for governments and tends to be a common policy objective, even where motives for introducing it might differ. There are a number of different political traditions that can lead to the common policy outcome of increased social connectivity. In the North American neo-liberal tradition, social connectivity shows how people have the ability to look after themselves and avoid the ignominy of dependence upon the state (Cruickshank, 1996; Wilkinson, 2010). It allows the development of personal freedoms, particularly where community action can release communities from publicly provided services over which they have little control (Lemke, 2001). Individual rights take over from state controls to allow individuals to reshape their lives (Rose, 1999).
In the UK, promoting increased social connectivity has allowed successive governments of all major political parties over the past 20 years to advocate (and develop policies for) ‘stakeholding’ societies, ‘active citizens’, ‘third way’ politics and the Big Society. Such independence from the state has also been advocated as a means of reducing exchequer cost (Taylor, 2003) and the size of government (Barnes et al, 2007), and is seen as a political justification for policies concerned with empowering communities.
We have seen how the Grey and Pleasant Land (GaPL) research project was based on an interdisciplinary collaboration that brought together two dozen researchers at five universities to study the civic and social lives of older people in six different rural communities in England and Wales. As explained in Chapter One by Hennessy, Means and Burholt, we followed an approach in which the cross-cutting theme of connectivity was used as a ‘heuristic metaphor’ (Klamor and Leonard, 1994), with the aim of facilitating shared theorising through the collective adoption of this shared concept. This chapter, therefore, starts with some reflections on the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary research on rural ageing.
During the life of the project, the popularity of the term ‘connectivity’ took off in assorted policy and research funding arenas, as exemplified in the UK Research Councils’ interdisciplinary programme on Connected Communities. This chapter argues that the exploratory power of connectivity makes it much more than a heuristic device. Drawing upon the previous chapters, the diverse ways in which rural elders connect will be illustrated, as well as the main barriers to such connectivity taking place. It will be argued that it is important to understand the distinction between how rural elders experience connectivity to people in such areas as civic engagement and intergenerational relations as opposed to their connectivity to objects (eg landscape and scenery). It will also be argued that connection to place still matters to many rural elders but that, overall, they are starting to transition from place-based to more geographically dispersed connectivity.
The chapter also revisits how best to theorise connectivity by looking at what Chapters Three to Eight tell us about the explanatory power of both the social capital and human ecology perspectives. It concludes by drawing out broad policy and practice implications for rural stakeholders and arguing that the overall findings do challenge the dominant problem-based paradigm for rural elders.
The challenge and rewards of interdisciplinary research on rural ageing
What does the literature on interdisciplinary research tell us?
Large-scale multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research is increasingly advocated by governments and the major research funders like Research Councils UK, with the present Strategic Vision of the latter stressing the need ‘to maximise opportunities for breakthrough research that crosses disciplines and domain boundaries’ (RCUK, 2011, p 3).
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the background and guiding interdisciplinary framework of a programme of research on ageing in rural areas of the UK that forms the basis of this book. The topic of this research is older people's participation in rural community life, in particular, the ways in which rural elders are connected to their communities and their contributions to rural civic society. This focus brings together a number of established and emerging strands of gerontological interest – the social inclusion (and exclusion) of older people; their support networks; financial security; leisure participation; availability and access to services; transport and mobility; civic engagement in later life; and digital inclusion – all considered within the rural context. In this chapter, we outline the aims and organisation of this volume, highlighting the broad interdisciplinary approach that informed our study of how and in what ways older people are connected to civic society and their rural settings. We term these links ‘connectivity’, and the nature and impact of older people's connectivities in rural communities form a thread that integrates the various disciplinary perspectives and elements of the research described in the chapters that follow.
Rural ageing in the UK context
Despite increasing urbanisation globally, it has often been estimated that more than 60% of the world's older population live in rural areas (Hermanova et al, 2001). In the majority of countries, it has been noted that rural areas continue to be disproportionately elderly (Kinsella, 2001) and the growth of the older segment of the population is occurring faster in rural than in non-rural settings. Worldwide, 9.7% of rural populations are aged 60 and over; in Europe, this figure is 22.9%, which is greater than the proportion of their counterparts (19.1%) living in urban areas (United Nations, 2009). Contemporary rural Britain reflects this demographic picture (Brown, 2010). Rural England is at the forefront of the demographic ‘age wave’, with a median population age in 2006 of 44.4 years, compared with 38.5 years in urban areas (Commission for Rural Communities, 2007, 2008); this is expected to increase to 50 years in rural areas over the next 25 years (Champion and Shepherd, 2006). Moreover, median age is increasing faster in rural than in urban locations, and rural communities, particularly smaller ones, now have higher proportions of people in the 40–64 and 65 and over age groups than do urban areas.
Place attachment is a particular type of connectivity that could be described as the ‘glue’ that connects people to places. The study of place attachment stems from phenomenology and builds on the philosophical premises concerning the sense of belonging and being-in-the-world. Typically, this approach shies away from reductionist or psychometric approaches to the study of place attachment and uses qualitative data to examine this concept. Although such qualitative approaches provide useful conceptions around place attachment, qualitative data are not readily empirically generalisable. Because a central aim of social gerontology has been to apply research to improve the lives of older persons, this chapter draws on quantitative survey data from the Grey and Pleasant Land (GaPL) project conducted in England and Wales (described in Chapter One) to construct a multidimensional measure of place attachment and to examine how older people develop a connection with their place of residence. In so doing, its aim is to strengthen the empirical research base on place-based connectivity.
In this chapter, we review the literature on place attachment and then empirically test conceptual models based on the literature to identify the predictors of, and the pathways to, place attachment. These analyses contribute to a small body of literature on the place attachment of older rural adults (Rowles, 1988, 1990; Burholt and Naylor, 2005; Burholt, 2006, 2012; Keating et al, 2011), and we reflect on the applicability of our findings to those from Canadian rural communities that formed a parallel project to the UK research.
What is place attachment?
A number of different degrees of connectivity to the community as locale are described in the literature and several authors have considered the multidimensional nature of place attachment. Mohan (2011), for example, notes its heterogeneity: from complete disengagement to full commitment; from activity in some spheres but not in others; and participation at some times but not at others. Scheff (2011) notes its extremes as being ‘complete alienation’ on the one hand and ‘complete solidarity’ on the other – from high levels of social capital to fractured communities. Some people are just happy ‘being’ in a place without necessarily being actively involved in it (Forrest and Kearns, 2001; Hidalgo and Hernandez, 2001), possibly because they do not share common values with others in the community (Gilbert, 1996).
This paper considers the support networks of older people in populations with a preponderance of multigenerational households and examines the most vulnerable network types in terms of loneliness and isolation. Current common typologies of support networks may not be sensitive to differences within and between different cultures. This paper uses cross-sectional data drawn from 590 elders (Gujaratis, Punjabis and Sylhetis) living in the United Kingdom and South Asia. Six variables were used in K-means cluster analysis to establish a new network typology. Two logistic regression models using loneliness and isolation as dependent variables assessed the contribution of the new network type to wellbeing. Four support networks were identified: ‘Multigenerational Households: Older Integrated Networks’, ‘Multigenerational Households: Younger Family Networks’, ‘Family and Friends Integrated Networks’ and ‘Non-kin Restricted Networks’. Older South Asians with ‘Non-kin Restricted Networks’ were more likely to be lonely and isolated compared to others. Using network typologies developed with individualistically oriented cultures, distributions are skewed towards more robust network types and could underestimate the support needs of older people from familistic cultures, who may be isolated and lonely and with limited informal sources of help. The new typology identifies different network types within multigenerational households, identifies a greater proportion of older people with vulnerable networks and could positively contribute to service planning.
The Bangor Longitudinal Study of Ageing (BLSA), conducted in rural Wales from 1979 to 1999, followed a cohort of survivors from more than 500 people over 20 years. Using both quantitative and qualitative data from the study, the factors associated with increases and decreases in loneliness and social isolation were identified. The study was based on a population sample and survivors were followed up every 4 years. From 1983 to 1987, 30 people aged 75 and over in 1979 were studied intensively. The customary measure of loneliness was used, as well as an aggregate measure devised by the research team. Social isolation was similarly measured, using an aggregate measure. Respondents were assessed as demonstrating low, moderate, or high levels of loneliness or isolation. Subsequently, statistical models of loneliness and social isolation were developed. Some respondents were assessed as not experiencing social isolation or loneliness during the study. Others showed changes in levels. In this article, the data are explored, seeking factors associated with changes in social isolation and loneliness. Outcome measures of these two variables of interest are compared with items from the aggregate measures and other identifiable intervening variables. The article discusses which change variables contribute most to levels of isolation and loneliness and result in different combinations of these two outcomes. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.
Britain's minority ethnic groups are numerous and diverse, and among them there are complex relationships between their origins, the timing of their arrival by decade and the age of the migrants, their geographical distribution in Britain, and gender differences in their occupational status distributions. All of these lifecourse attributes have implications for the migrants' situations as they reach old age. To advance our knowledge and understanding of these factors, this paper examines the lifecourse of a sample of 303 South Asian older migrants living in Birmingham, England's second largest city. The sample included 103 Gujaratis, 100 Punjabis, and 100 Sylhetis. The paper examines their living arrangements, education and language abilities, occupational status, and settlement and moves within the United Kingdom. The associations between ethnic group membership, gender and pre-migration histories are related to differences in their settlement patterns and residential mobility in Britain. The findings show variations in the timing, chronology and locations of each ethnic group's major lifecourse events, in the meanings associated with the events, and in the outcomes in late life. The similarities and differences between the ethnic groups and between men and women are discussed with regard to the current socio-economic situation of ethnic older people in the UK and the prospect for continuing inequalities.
Based on data from the Bangor Longitudinal Study of Ageing (BLSA) 1979–1999, this paper examines changes over time in the intergenerational relationships of older people (aged 65+ in 1979). The analysis uses quantitative and qualitative data to discuss changes from 1979–1999 for those respondents who survived in the community to 1999. It looks at mothers’ and fathers’ relationships with their adult children, grandmother and grandfather relationships with grandchildren and relationships between aunts and uncles with nieces and nephews. It identifies four different patterns of intergenerational relationships showing how the rural employment structure impacts on family structure, migration and support patterns.
Based on data from the Bangor Longitudinal Study of Ageing, this
examines changes over 16 years (1979–1995) in the relationships of
people (aged 65 or over in 1979) with their children and siblings. The
latent class analysis to categorise the relationships into two types based
components of intergenerational solidarity: structural, associational,
and functional. The two types of relationship identified are close knit
and loose knit. Results show a change in relationship types over time.
relationships with parents decreased in solidarity. Relationships with
showed a smaller decrease in close knit relationships than with fathers;
relationships of parents became more loose knit, but remained stable and
closer for those who were childless. 71 per cent of those aged 80 or over
at least one close knit relationship with either a sibling or child. Gender
differences exist in the development of relationships over time: fathers
more loose knit relationships with children than mothers, and male-male
sibling dyads did not strengthen over time.
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