The limits of old-age care provision: preferences and practices in three indonesian communities

Schröder-Butterfill, Elisabeth, Fithry, Tengku Syawila and Dewi, Vita Priantina (2010) The limits of old-age care provision: preferences and practices in three indonesian communities. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 22pp. (CRA Discussion Paper, 1001).


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In rural Indonesia, where state welfare provision remains minimal, a wide range of identities (incl. close and distant kin, neighbours and community institutions) are involved in the provision of material and practical help in old age. When it comes to personal care, the boundaries of acceptable sources of assistance are drawn much more narrowly and are more heavily gendered. Using in-depth qualitative and quantitative data collected over five years, this paper compares preferences and practices of care provision in situations of ill health or frailty among three ethnic groups in Indonesia (matrilineal Minangkabau, bilateral Javanese and Sundanese). To differing degrees the three groups manifest preferences for care-provision by daughters and spouses; they also differ in the extent to which notions of shame and pollution prohibit intimate care by members of the opposite sex and non-blood relatives. Actual practices of care provision are, of course, heavily constrained by circumstance: childlessness, migration, conflict or a poor reputation may force the negotiation of alternative arrangements (e.g. dependence on siblings, neighbours, paid carers), not all of which are compatible with well-being and a positive social identity. By probing into the norms and practices surrounding care provision in different socio-cultural settings, it becomes possible to arrive at a better understanding of notions of kinship, personhood and sociality, and the implications of these notions for vulnerability and security in old age.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information: A revised version of this paper was submitted to the journal "Ageing and Society" in January 2012.
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Keywords: care provision, ageing, cross-gender taboo, gender, comparative ethnography, indonesia
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences
ePrint ID: 155407
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
May 2010Published
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 12:54
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:25

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