Reflections on the construction and study of elderliness

  • Andreas Sagner Institute of Ethnology and African Studies, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany


The institutional approach with its focus on the roles and the socio-economic status of elderly people still prevails in African research on ageing. To be sure, this perspective is not without value, at least if we take it beyond the confines of orthodox modernization theory. Nevertheless, if we want to save older Africans from macro-sociological extinction in general and from structural-functionalist elimination in particular, we need to pay closer attention to the multiplexity of their everyday lives and to their subjective experiences, without, of course, thereby neglecting the institutional structure of society.


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