The purpose of this article is to, within the specific Sri Lankan figures on ageing within South Asia (comparatively high longevity and high figures on intergenerational family‐living), look into the interpretations of social care and everyday social life in urban elder homes in Colombo. What does everyday social life look like and how are underlying meanings of care given shape? To highlight the taken for granted quality of much of everyday care, comparisons are made on the basis of earlier ethnographic research by Indian scholars on Dutch senior homes.
The methodology relied on analysis of existing quantitative data on ageing in Sri Lanka and on research generated by the four‐year team‐study of which the author was part. Specific data in this article were collected through qualitative research by the author: regular visiting and participating in activities within certain selected homes in Colombo, over a period of four months. In addition survey data were collected on 55 senior homes in Colombo.
Against a background of available statistical data on ageing; family and institutional care, qualitative research findings are provided on everyday life within the Colombo homes, Sri Lanka. What kind of care (“Araksha kerime”) is given and/or aimed for? The concept of “social care” (Daly and Lewis) is the starting point to understand how normative and social frameworks within which “care” is understood and undertaken. Cross cultural comparison with every‐day life in Dutch senior homes articulates the impact of taken for granted socio‐cultural similarities and differences embedded in the concept of “senior home” and its everyday life.
The four year research project by three main researchers (of which the author was one) resulted in a substantial data base and several publications. This specific qualitative section of research is based in an additional period of four months of regular visiting of five selected Colombo elder homes. Survey data were collected on another 55 senior homes.
The points made in the paper could be constructively discussed cross culturally and contribute to a debate on the taken for granted underlying socio‐cultural meanings within which universal definitions of – in this case – care within senior homes is pursued cross culturally. Money does not always make all the difference.
The article attempts to combine data from different disciplines and compare different socio‐cultural settings for old‐age care. This can shed a different light on the taken‐for‐granted elements in the shaping the social life in senior homes. For example, it becomes clear why the causes of loneliness and isolation among elders in a certain setting seem so “natural” within and so strange from beyond.
Risseeuw, C. (2012), "Institutional care provisions for the aged in Sri Lanka and some reflections on issues of “care” and “company”", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 32 No. 11/12, pp. 695-707. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443331211280728Download as .RIS
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