Accepted paper:

Negotiating well-being in old age in India


Willemijn de Jong (Institute of Social Anthropology, Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

Cultural and societal factors are identified which impact on the negotiation of well-being of poor elderly Muslims in Kerala. An inclusive approach to social security and livelihood is used, referring to gendered efforts of individuals and groups in order to cope with insecurity.

Paper long abstract:

In my paper I will address the question of how people with a low income negotiate well-being in old age in India. I will focus on the ideas and practices related to ageing of urban Muslims in Kerala. People among a group of Muslims in an industrial area used to express feelings of insecurity because, due to a decreasing number of children in the family, the pressure to care for the elderly comes to rest more and more on one or two children only. A particular anxiety was that the son who would care in old age could die. Based on the meanings of old age and the ideas about preparing for well-being in old age, we can distinguish a specific morality of support which impacts on the processes of negotiating well-being during this life phase. The elderly people maintain specific networks of support which differ for males and females. The rather frequent practice that the house is assigned to the wife is an important condition for well-being of widows. In these respects, well-being in old age shows differences, but also similarities compared with people of Hindu communities in Kerala. As an analytic framework, an inclusive approach to social security, welfare and well-being, is used which takes into account the gendered efforts of individuals and groups related to both kinship and citizenship to cope with situations of personal crises and insecurity.

panel W047
Understanding welfare and well-being in a globalised world