Aiding and Aging: The Coming Crisis in Support for the Elderly by Kin and State

By John Mogey | Go to book overview

economic controls. This is in view of the importance of the household as the place where personalities can create a private lifestyle. These lifestyles depend on social boundaries that protect individual selves from direct scrutiny by politicians. Social boundaries also place a high value on beliefs that protect the freedom of individuals to enter into reciprocity relations in markets.

The message of this book is that social policy aimed at aiding the aged requires that public support systems do not undermine the informal supports that come from kin and family households in an open community. Any such policy can only be effective in communities where housing allows for a fit between the changing needs of the elderly and the kinds of dwellings appropriate to their needs. The goal of the authors is to interpret a situation, and most chapters are nontechnical. We write aware that we cannot claim causal connections for many of the statements.

Throughout we know that these interpretations turn actual situations into idealistic models. In the world of events deviations can occur. Government agencies experience inefficiency from bureaucrats; households report abuse, cruelty, and lack of caring or helping between relatives; poverty and poor education both lead to inability to use the resources available from markets; and ill health comes from lack of medical access, as well as from social isolation from aid by significant others. But these problems belong in another study.

The authors in this book would like to see their political institutions create, before the end of this millennium, doors that will open ways through the structural dilemma we describe. The end of the divine rights of kings, which in Europe began around 1700, was the door that led to freedom of religion for citizens; freedom of markets from state controlled mercantilism came a century later. Many attempts at utopian communities since 1800, together with the increase in the numbers of social welfare professionals since 1900, indicate that aiding and aging remain an unsolved structural problem as we approach the year 2000. The one prediction we would make is that when this aiding process is finally established, it will be distinct from any utopia already conceived.

The book presents its information in three sections. The five chapters of Part I are about Households, Amity, and Lifestyle. Part II, in six chapters, deals with Individuals, Kinship, and Networks. Part III adds three chapters on Kinship, Lifestyle, and Policy.


REFERENCES

Allan G. A. 1979. A sociology of friendship and kinship. London: Allen and Unwin. Duncan G. J., M. S. Hill, and S. D. Hoffman. 1988. "Welfare dependence within and across generations". Science 239:467-71.

Farber Bernard. 1981. Conceptions of kinship. New York: Elsevier.

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