Does eldership mean anything in the contemporary West?

James Nichol

in Valuing older people

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9781847422927
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304173 | DOI:
Does eldership mean anything in the contemporary West?

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This chapter explores the idea of ‘eldership’ in contrasting cultural contexts. It begins with accounts of traditional eldership as practised in Guatemala, New Zealand, and Samoa, going on to compare them with understandings within European populations in New Zealand and Great Britain. There are indications throughout the research that, without using the language of eldership, people did have views about qualities linked to potential contributions specific to older people. These are: ‘slowing down to find it’; ‘purple’ eldership; and ‘guardianship’. The author briefly examines each in this chapter. Eldership, to be vital and effective, requires an invitation as well as the will. Without these, people cannot step into this role and it is perhaps what they experienced as a lack of invitation that led many participants to shy away from the concept as well as the identification.

Keywords: eldership; Guatemala; New Zealand; guardianship; purple eldership; older people

Chapter.  5635 words. 

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing

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