The Anthropology of Care and Education for Life: Searching for Resilient Communities in Multicultural Aging Societies

By on October 7, 2014

Info Baru Vol. 10 No. 10 Oktober 2014-l

In Societies with aging populations and in which cultures and values are becoming increasingly diverse, where can people find common ground and the shared time and space required to transmit culture to the next generation? Especially in many advanced societies, there are many concerns about social changes wrought by the current trends toward an aging society with fewer children and the effects of globalization on the movement of people–including the isolation of older people, the friction between people from different cultural backgrounds, and the devastation to nature and the living environment that can result when sufficient care is not provided. Attention has also been drawn to the future of welfare, particularly the question of how the nation’s financial and personnel resources ought to be allocated.

However, the theme of “how to live in such a changing society” also gives us the chance to rethink the issue of care-namely, how best to interact with our surrounding environment, including people and things. “Care” not only refers to the consideration and services provided for people within a society in times of adversity, but also has broader meanings such as concern for oneself as well as others and the environment, and sometimes can even include believing in something in order to hold on to one’s identity and autonomy, based on a set of values (Suzuki 2012:95). It thus also offers us plenty of possibilities to expand our lifestyle in a variety of ways.

In this book, we will focus on the care and consideration associated with old age and childhood. One of the reasons we have pursued our research in this manner is that, as Giddens et al. have pointed out, the term “life politics,” which encompasses the way we think about the well-being of elderly people and children, is deeply involved in the life course and the lifestyle of people from all generations and includes such topics as employment, family life, and gender relationships (e.g., Giddens 1991:214-231; 1994:9092; Miyamoto 2008:165-185).

Another reason is that the word “aging,” i.e., the process of growing older, can also refer to the way in which people recuperate and rejuvenate themselves and can enjoy simply being alive. In addition, taking care of oneself can also be presented as the very basis of “education”: having time to really think and reflect about how one would prefer to live, in keeping with those things that one values most (Suzuki ed. 2013; Terasaki 2010, 2013; Shirozu 2011, 2013). Thus, both aging and education provide access to the essential time and space needed for lifelong learning-allowing people to reflect on their ways of life, even while experiencing the constant change affecting each individual, as well as the world in which we all live.

Daftar isi: The Anthropology of Care and Education for Life

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