Accepted paper:

Caring Relatives: an ethnographic contribution to the role and meaning of kinship for older women in Slovakia


Noémi Sebök-Polyfka (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to analyze how kinship and relatedness are constructed by older women in Slovakia, as well as to highlight its significance in their everyday lives by taking into account biographical interviews.

Paper long abstract:

In Slovakia, a large number of women face poverty and social exclusion in retirement. As a consequence, they develop different strategies to cope with old-age-precariousness. These strategies often rely on different constructions of kinship and relatedness. This paper reflects on the meanings of kinship in the aging society of Slovakia. It focuses on constructions of kinship in narratives of women in rural areas of the south-western part of the country. It discusses the meanings of relatedness in terms of obligations to younger family members such as caring for the older ones. The presentation aims to answer the following questions: Is kinship and relatedness important in the everyday lives of women in retirement age in Slovakia? Do older women expect their children or other relatives to support them later, when they become dependent on intensive care? Do other social ties and networks, such as neighborhood or friendship become increasingly more important than kinship at this point? What alternative forms of care work do women consider that go beyond traditional strategies? This presentation is based on my PhD-research in Slovakia. My PhD-project aims to expose the strategies elderly women develop to cope with precariousness in their everyday life. The research methods involve biographical narrative interviews with women of retirement age, as well as expert interviews and participant observations in the south-western part of Slovakia. This presentation will broach the issue of using networks and kinship as a special strategy against poverty and social exclusion.

panel P040
Re-conceptualising kinship and relatedness in an ageing world [MAN]