Accepted paper:

Elderly at home in Italy: conflicting practices of care and conceptions of aged persons between family care givers, immigrants badanti and institutional domestic assistants


Francesco Zanotelli (University of Messina)
Maria Antonietta Alessandri (comune di cervia)

Paper short abstract:

The paper illustrates some results of a research conducted in houses of Central Italy where conflicting situations are produced between different care-givers. This situations are useful to understand the conceptions that the state, relatives and immigrant have of the non-autonomous elderly.

Paper long abstract:

The Italian case in the Demography and Anthropology of old age is particularly important for the encounter of three processes at the same times: 1) an extreme demographic ageing of the population; 2) a specific 'moral' aspect expressed in terms of intergenerational obligation to take care of the elderly inside the kin-group; 3) a Mediterranean model of welfare policies based on subsidiarity between the state and the family. It seems that the force and durability of this potentially explosive triple connection it is actually (and even more in the future) guaranteed by the insertion of care-workers, the badanti, recruited in the global market of domestic-care. We will show the results of a research recently conducted in one municipality of Central Italy, that had deeply investigated the daily interactions between the relatives, the migrant domestic workers (badanti), and the personnel of the local Municipality responsible of primary care of the non-autonomous elderly. The main results that we want to discuss concerns the frequent situations of tension that are produced inside the houses when subjects of the 'triple connection' have to collaborate with each other. The misunderstandings and incommunicability that often produce conflicts instead of collaboration are the emergent aspects of different points of view about 'care', expectations, hierarchization of knowledge, technification of care. All this situations are very useful to understand how non-autonomous elderly are conceived by the state, by their relatives, and by the migrants, in this specific context and in one moment of crisis for the whole society.

panel LD22
The problems and values of old age in the post-modern era