Presentation on theme: "Aging and creativity: the implications of globalization and transnationalism for our understanding of communities’ shared values Sandra Torres, Ph.D. Professor."— Presentation transcript:
Aging and creativity: the implications of globalization and transnationalism for our understanding of communities’ shared values Sandra Torres, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology & Chair in Social Gerontology (Uppsala University, Sweden) & Guest Professor (NISAL- Linköping University, Sweden) & Adjunct Professor in Rehabilitation & Aging (Oslo & Akerhus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway) Short presentation at the AHRC Network Meeting on July 13th 2012 in Keele, UK.
This presentation will address the following questions: What do we know about different cultures’ understandings of aging? How is our understanding of place influence on communities’ shared values affected by the globalization of international migration? What does all of this suggest about our understanding of creativity in old age?
Research on understandings of aging has shown: That there are cultural differences in the way in which aging as a process, and old age as a stage of life, are understood. Some cultures – such as those found in highly industrialized parts of the Western world – take for granted that aging can be delayed In these parts of the world old age is perceived to be a stage of the life- course associated with decline. Other cultures – such as those found in less industrialized parts of the world and often in the Eastern parts of the world – regard aging as a process that cannot be delayed (and one that few would want to delay either) In these parts of the world old age is perceived to be a stage of the life- course associated with wisdom and higher status. Research shows also that migration from one place to another (and it is mostly migration from East to West that has been studied) lead to having one’s understandings of aging and old age be challenged. These differences are bound to have relevance to the way in which creativity in old age is understood. BUT, surprisingly enough, there seems to be no research on cultural understandings of creativity and also on whether or not different understandings of aging and old age are associated with different understandings of creativity.
“… an adequate understanding of social life, social relations, identity and experience can no longer be derived from an analysis limited in scope to ‘society’, particularly when the latter is conceptualized as equivalent to the geopolitical order of the modern nation- state” (Smart 1993: 135).
Globalization challenges, in other words, the way in which we conceive culture (and its relationship to place and community) because: the equation ’national location’ = ’easily discernable cultural values’ is no longer as straightforward as it used to be studying the ’national’ by going to ’a specific locality’ is becoming more difficult culture homogeneity within national boundaries can no longer be taken for granted inter-cultural differences are not as easily tangible intra-cultural differences are becoming augmented making cross-cultural comparisons is becoming more difficult
“the autonomy and boundness of cultures must nowadays be understood as a matter of degree” (Hannerz 1992: 261).
What does the globalization of int’l. migration mean? The migration stock (world-wide) has increased dramatically over the past decades. –75 million people migrated in 1965 –120 million in 1990 Int’l. migration flows have changed the ethnic composition of all highly industrialized societies. Social scientists have therefore started to understand that int’l. migration is a social phenomenon they need to reckon with Among the new tendencies we are observing we find: –The feminization of migration –The differentiation of migration Larger variation in migration motives and types of migration patterns Larger number of older people that migrate.
migration plays namely “a key part in most contemporary social transformations. Migration is both a result of global change and a powerful source for further change in migrant-sending and receiving-societies. Its immediate impacts are felt on the economic level, but it also affects social relations, culture, national politics and international relations. Migration inevitably leads to greater ethno-cultural diversity within nation- states, transforming identities and blurring traditional boundaries” (Castles 2000: 124).
“it’s not just that, increasingly, many people have no roots; it’s also that they have no soil” (King 1991: 6).
Globalization challenges the way in which we think about migration because: Assumptions re: ’sending’ and ’receiving’ countries are no longer as useful The distinction between ’permanent’ and ’temporary’ settler is becoming obsolete The differences between ’immigrants’ and ’refugees’ are no longer as clear-cut The phenomenon of transnationalism is no longer rare a new ’kind’ of migrant has been created (i.e. transnational migrants) Transnational lifestyles are characterized by: The hybridization of culture The ’Here-or-There’ has been replaced with ’Here-and-There’ Either-Or’ has been replaced with ’Both-And’
“Over the next three decades, if we are to understand the material, social and welfare circumstances of (older) people, it will increasingly be necessary to have knowledge of their biographies or individual life courses, for neither their country of residence nor their birth dates or last occupation will be as reliable predictors of their social and experiential positions as they were in the recent past” (Warnes 2006: 217)
What does this means for the study of creativity in later life? Cultural values are bound to have impact in the way in which creativity in old age is understood and also on the creative practices on which people engage. –But the impact may not necessarily be as clear-cut as we may imagine. There are namely degrees of cultures as Hannerz has shown. Migrant populations should not be disregarded as we embark on studies of creativity in old age. –These populations are interesting sources of information about different understandings of creativity in later life, –Migrants’ creative practices may also be different –Hence that both the WHAT of creativity and the HOW of it could be interesting to explore from the perspectives that migrants offer. The hybridity of culture (and the being-in-between cultures) mentioned earlier challenges understandings of constructs that are key to our understanding of aging (such as well-being, QoL, life satisfaction and successful aging) –Understandings of creativity in old age as well as creative practices may also be challenged by this hybridity. Our understandings of culture’s implications for creativity need therefore to take into account the way in which the globalization of international migration is challenging how we think about place and community.