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Uncertain progress: the construction of family networks over the life course in Indonesia Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill, University of Southamtpon.

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Presentation on theme: "Uncertain progress: the construction of family networks over the life course in Indonesia Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill, University of Southamtpon."— Presentation transcript:

1 Uncertain progress: the construction of family networks over the life course in Indonesia Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill, University of Southamtpon

2 Coping Resources Risk Factors Threats Bad outcome Good outcome The impact of networks on vulnerability E.g. poverty; lack of education E.g. ill health; widowhood; unemployment Assets, esp. informal networks Wellbeing or poor quality of life

3 Vulnerability and networks Networks are key arbiters of people s wellbeing or vulnerability. Understanding vulnerability requires understanding nature and functioning of networks: Where and why do gaps in networks emerge? What are the implications of those gaps? Under what circumstances may gaps be filled?

4 Vulnerability = Networks = (Demography*Economics*Reputation) over Time Socio-economic position Network construction Wellbeing Divorce Sterility Migration Mortality Adoption Reputation

5 Lifecourse Approach A life course perspective provides both a developmental and historical framework for the study of intergenerational relations. It enables us to understand how patterns of assistance and support networks were formed over the life course and were carried over into the later years; how they were shaped by historical circumstances and by people s cultural traditions; and what strategies individuals and families followed in order to secure future supports for later life. Relations of mutual support are formed over the life course and are reshaped by historical circumstances, such as migration, wars, and the decline or collapse of local economies. (Hareven 1995:2)

6 1) Past events have a cumulative bearing on present circumstances. Early transitions can have enduring consequences by affecting subsequent transitions, even after many years and decades have passed. They do so, in part, through behavioral consequences that set in motion cumulating advantages and disadvantages (Elder 1998: 7)

7 2) The pathways to current outcomes matter. life history supplements what we know about present circumstances; it is not merely captured by these circumstances. For example, occupational history predicts health above and beyond contemporaneous occupational status …. In other words, individuals with the same current status may have different outcomes during their later years because they arrived at this common status in different ways. (Crosnoe 2002: 311)

8 3) Timing matters The developmental impact of a succession of life transitions or events is contingent on when they occur in a person s life. (Elder 1998: 3).

9 4) Lifecourses are embedded in historical time In its emphasis on interaction with historical time, the life- course approach provides an understanding of the location of various cohorts in their respective historical contexts. (Hareven 1995:3).

10 5) Lives are linked lives the individual s opportunities and constraints hinge on the uncertain progress of others in their own life-stage tasks. (Hagestad and Neugarten 1985: 50)

11 Methodology Ethnographic and demographic fieldwork in an East Javanese village in Semi-structured interviews with all elderly (N=206). Repeated in-depth interviews with 40 elders (including kin mapping, life histories, interviews with family members). Randomised surveys on health (N=67) and household economy and interhousehold exchange (N=106). Follow-up in 2004: changes in older people s situation, network composition and support arrangements; interviews with kin on end-of-life-care of deceased elders. Re-surveys in 2005.

12 A Case Study Sadia was born to a family of moderate means ( strata 2 ). She married in 1935, still in her teens. Two of her children died in infancy, a son and daughter survived. Her husband died when her children were still small, so Sadia saw herself forced to leave them in the care of her childless sister and migrate to the nearest city in search of work. She found employment as a domestic servant for wealthy Dutch and Chinese families.

13 A Case Study (cont.) The 1940s were a period of war and occupation, entailing extreme hardship, food shortages, and population displacement. Many died, and survival was often achieved only by desperate means. Sadia married and divorced numerous times, none of these marriages resulting in any further children. For a while she raised a niece who had joined her in town, but the relationship stopped short of developing into an informal adoption (anak angkat).

14 A Case Study (cont.) When no longer able to find work, Sadia returned to the village. Her son had moved away, and relations with her daughter were poor. To this day the daughter accuses her mother of abandoning her. She also condemns her mother s past life-style, notably her many marriages and divorces: She knows no shame! Sadia lives out her days in a primitive bamboo shack, built onto the end of her daughter s substantial brick house. Despite her age and blindness in one eye, she still collects firewood, herbs and wild vegetables, which she sells for a few pence. When too unwell to forage, she eats just plain rice. Villagers hesitate to provide her with much charity: the daughter s presence would make that appear like meddling. Sadia s reputation and local networks have, of course, not been helped by her long absence from the village.

15 adoption strata I II IV III child- hood adulthoodlater life education marriage divorce/widowhood remarriage childbearing death/migration of child retirement ill health death work

16 Percentage of Elderly Respondents by Number of Children Ever Born, Number of Children Surviving and Number of Children in the Village

17 Source: Hull and Hull (1977)

18 Source: Hull and Hull (1977)

19 LowerMiddleUpper Mean number of children ever born Ideal family size Mean number of children lost by all mothers The relationship between fertility and mortality by economic status of mothers, Central Java, 1972 Source: Singarimbun and Hull (1977)

20 Source: Schroeder-Butterfill and Kreager (2005)

21 Source: Hull and Hull (1977)

22 Source: Kreager and Schroeder-Butterfill (2006)

23 Location of Adult Children by Economic Status of Parents

24 Source: Schroeder-Butterfill and Kreager (2005)


26 Thank you

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