Accepted Paper:

Intergenerational care under the condition of vulnerability: the case of urban Burkina Faso  


Claudia Roth (University of Berne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is based on the initial findings of a research project on inter-generational relations under stress with fieldwork in Burkina Faso. The focus is on two stressful situations: 1. jobless adult children, supported by their old parents, 2. adult children taking care of their old sick parents.

Paper long abstract:

Poverty is increasing in Burkina Faso despite economic growth: 2002, nearly half of the population were living under the poverty line defined as 125 € per year (Soulama 2005). Under these economic conditions, the interpersonal mutuality will also in future continue to be the base of social security and care. Though young urban people long for independence from their parents. However, this is impossible under current conditions, and interdependencies with old and new circles of support and care continue to determine their intergenerational relations. The anthropological research on the micro level is working with a multitude of interviews and life stories. As statistical data on the effects of inter-generational exchange is lacking, only qualitative data makes it possible to trace old patterns of reciprocity and to discover new practices and perspectives of young and old women and men in relation with the established structures of reciprocity. Within our interdisciplinary research project "Intergenerational relations under stress: a comparison between Europe and Africa" (2007-2010, financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation) we analysed a multitude of interviews and life stories in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest town of Burkina Faso, West Africa (and my research partner in Switzerland). The research is focussing on two situations considered stressful: 1. jobless adult children, living with and supported by their old parents, 2. adult children taking care of their old diseased parents. In the workshop, I will put the recent results of my study in Bobo-Dioulasso up for discussion.

Panel W077
Care, welfare and mutuality: anthropological perspectives on shifting concepts, boundaries and practices