Accepted paper:

Social Network as a Facilitator of Late-Life Transitions

Authors:

Barbara Pieta (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

Social network and ethnographic data from the fieldwork in a town in Northeast Italy are here presented in order to reflect on how the category of old-age (non)-self sufficiency is negotiated by both the people who happen to be classified as such and their kin and non-kin care-givers.

Paper long abstract:

Socio-sanitary reforms that took place in Italy in the 1970's created a legal construct - a "non-self- sufficient aged person" ("un anziano non-autosufficiente"). In the years that followed, this legal concept would become a social one, made evident by a well-established presence of the word "non-autosufficiente" in the today's Italian vernacular, as well as by the emergence of various systems of formal or non-formal organizational routines created to respond to the needs of the "non-autosufficienti". The aforementioned legal reforms brought about an imagined collective: aged persons who are no longer self-sufficient. In this paper, I present the data gathered during my ethnographic fieldwork in a town in Northeast Italy, in order to reflect on how the category of old-age (non)-self sufficiency is locally constructed, negotiated and at times contested by both the people who happen to be classified as such and their kin and non-kin care-givers. The ethnographic data presented here will be supplemented with the network data gathered from a randomly sampled group of the aged inhabitants of the town, who during the time of the survey manifested various grades of physical and/or mental decline. The final discussion of both the ethnographic and network data will be devoted to the reflection on if and how the social network analysis can further facilitate anthropological thinking on the ways in which late life transitions are lived.

panel P079
Staying, moving, (re)settling: transitioning practices, actors and places of care in later life [Age and Generations Network]