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Engaging elders in community and society
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2013 (English)In: The SAGE handbook of aging, work and society / [ed] John Field, Ron Burke and Cary Cooper, London: Sage Publications, 2013, 1, 363-378 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Expectations for older people’s active participation, both in society and in their private lives, have increased in comparison with previous attitudes, which considered them as more dependent. The elderly today are expected to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. In this chapter, contradictory perspectives related to older people and their engagement in the community will be addressed.

Material from a NETWORK-study has been re-interpreted in order to clarify how attitudes and norms have changed since the original material was collected in the early 1990s. Further material from a survey of people aged 65 and 75 years was collected 15 years later in the Ostrobothnia Region, and the county of Västerbotten, the GERDA-study. A third set of material was collected in an Australian-Swedish project called the SOCIAL CAPITAL-study with the aim of comparing the social capital generated through volunteering in the two countries. All three materials focus on rural areas, allowing for a comparison to the predominant urban research.

In this chapter, these projects which all were included in a campaign called ‘All Sweden shall live’ will be analyzed. A demographic perspective will bring a special dimension to the understanding. From other studies from small communities where public care is either absent or insufficient, we know that a reciprocal exchange between friends or extended families is developed. Social movements and special interest organisations have acted as a driving force in the fight for equal treatment and political equality, sometimes contradictory to the Scandinavian welfare model of extended public services. The analysis opens for interesting new insights, including a finding related to unexpected gender roles. The interpretation is that under such circumstances gender is re-negotiated.

In the chapter formal and informal activities are analysed in relation to health as well as in relation to motives for engagement. The chapter ends with a discussion about the “ageing friendly community”.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2013, 1. 363-378 p.
Keyword [en]
elders, demography, rural areas, social networks, social capital
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80857ISBN: 9781446207826OAI: diva2:652153
Available from: 2013-09-30 Created: 2013-09-26 Last updated: 2014-01-20Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, Stina
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