KAPITAŁ SPOŁECZNY LUDZI STARYCH NA PRZYKŁADZIE MIESZKAŃCÓW MIASTA BIAŁYSTOK (Social Capital of Old People on the Example of Bialystok Residents)
Kapitał Społeczny Ludzi Starych na Przykładzie Mieszkańców Miasta Białystok, Wiedza i Edukacja, Lublin 2012
270 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2012
Date Written: June 24, 2012
"Social Capital of Old People on the Example of Bialystok Residents" is a book based on theoretical and empirical study, which presents an issue of diagnosing and using of old people social capital in the local and regional development processes. This issue is significant because of the threats and challenges associated with process of rapid ageing of Polish society at the beginning of 21st century. Publication, in particular, is an attempt to give answers to the following questions: what is the state of old people social capital in Bialystok, what transformations it undergoes and how is it differentiated?
In this study old people are viewed as a social category, which is a set of people similar to each other in terms of socially significant features (such as age, possessed social roles and awareness of received social benefits), who are aware of these similarities and differences between each other. Moreover, it is assumed, that such persons exceeded the 60 years of age. It is also assumed that human, social and cultural capital is accumulated in the human resources. Social capital is recognized here broadly as a potential for collaboration embedded in interpersonal relationships and social norms that may benefit individuals, groups and societies.
The book consists of three chapters. The first, which is the theoretical part of work, includes information about: old age as a stage of individual life and explanation of the old people notion. It discusses social theories of ageing, historical factors affecting on the social position of old people category, changes in their place in Polish society during the system transformation and in the early 21st century. It describes the possible consequences of increased life expectancy for democracy and capitalism - including the concepts of society for all ages, silver economy. It also features ageing population issue, as well as social policy towards the elderly and old age in Bialystok as the borderland city. A variety of social capital concepts were presented; the spheres of its influence on socio-economic development, its status in Poland and guidelines for strategic building of its resources. Selected information on the activity of old people in public, social and economic life as key features of their social capital was brought closer. Putting various theoretical positions, results of research and statistical data in order was aimed to link many dispersed sources considering that it is relevant to identify and develop seniors' social capital resources, as well as leveling the delay of Polish sociology research on the elderly. Fundamental theoretical perspective of publication is the concept of capital according to P. Bourdieu. However, the proposals of J.S. Coleman, R.D. Putnam, F. Fukuyama, A. Giddens, P. Sztompka and A. Sadowski were also used.
The second chapter contains a methodological framework for the purposes of study. Research assumptions, method and course of implementation of studies were discussed. The study is based on the qualitative method and the application of in-depth interview techniques. It was considered that the personal contact with old people will be more accurate than other research techniques to identify the context in which they social capital resources can be found. It is important because the transfer of developed abroad activating solutions and interpretations of old people actions may be ineffective or have negative external effects in the Polish context. Moreover, in the Polish science literature attention is paid to scarcity of gerontological research in accordance with the interpretive paradigm. Study involved 26 respondents aged 60 to 89 years living in Bialystok associated with one of two different institutions: nursing home for the elderly and University of the Third Age. By comparing the persons on two extremes of social activity it was possible to see similarities and differences in their capital equipment, and also in achievements of the life positions in the class structure and resources aimed at successful ageing.
The third chapter presents the empirical analysis of the research results. This part outlines the way in which old people think about their ancestors and contemporary people. It also shows factors according to changes in their social position in the city, social issues which they consider most important for old people, their opinions about leisure time, opportunities and barriers of economic activity and types of old people social capital depending on the institution with which they are associated. Approach to the perception and use of internal disparities of seniors were also discussed. The analysis additionally contains the evaluation of senior citizens image in the polish mass media.
This publication does not contain a strict ending. It only identifies the main conclusions of the research and potential directions of future analysis. Above all, older people could improve their position not by demanding increases in social benefits from which major parts are often taken away by their family members, but by highlighting their human, social and cultural capital. It is necessary to create favorable conditions for social and professional life of old people and their cooperation with members of local communities. Important role in this regard is played by institutions implementing three tasks: stimulating senior citizens' desire to satisfy previously unrealized needs; creating relationships between them so that they can solve their own problems and work for the others; and providing legal, social and vocational guidance. Stimulating cooperation between existing public, commercial and non-governmental sector organizations may serve to achieve these goals. The dissemination of bottom-up techniques of social capital building and checklist of essential features of Age-friendly Cities may also be important.
Note: Downloadable document is in Polish.
Keywords: active ageing, age-friendly city, age discrimination, ageism, borderland city, development strategy, elderly, gerontechnology, gerontology, nursing home, old age, old people, silver economy, social capital, social infrastructure, social policy, third age, university of the third age
JEL Classification: A14, H75, I38, J11, J14, O2, P25, R1, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation