Twenty-First-Century Blues: <i>Aging in Families</i>

Merry Isaacs White

in Perfectly Japanese

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780520217546
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936591 | DOI:
Twenty-First-Century Blues: Aging in Families

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This chapter highlights changes in family and society that compromise older understandings in Japan. In lineage-based family codes of the past, the older generation would be in a stewardship position, a ritually superior position, and in control of resources and the young. Now the older generation act as child sitters and home minders or live with their children to be cared for themselves. There is little evocation of elder power and authority in such a household. About 60 percent of people over sixty-five years of age live with their relatives now, but this arrangement results from a later and more ambiguous accommodation rather than continuous coresidence, as a nuclear family (kakukazoku) with add-ons. The choices of private families have been transformed into public, national, concerns. Traditional values are frequently invoked to spur the family into action but may ensure neither the cohesion of families nor the security of resources to care for the elderly without some responsibility on the part of the state or local agencies.

Keywords: Japan; older people; care; family; authority; coresidence

Chapter.  9878 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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