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The Gift of Generations

The Gift of Generations
Japanese and American Perspectives on Aging and the Social Contract

$42.99 (C)

  • Date Published: June 1996
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521555203

$ 42.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The Gift of Generations is a comparative study of aging and the social contract in Japan and the United States. By using original, systematically comparable data collected in these countries, the book explores the different cultural definitions of vulnerability and giving, and the ways they shape and constrain the social strategies of routinizing helping arrangements. The book succeeds in interweaving the theory and practice of the social contract by developing the concept of symbolic equity.

    • Systematically comparable cross-cultural research by a bicultural author
    • Develops new conceptual framework of 'symbolic equity' to explore the paradox of giving in unequal relationships
    • Uses interview material to enliven text and provide concrete examples for each theoretical point
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "In this clearly conceived and well-written book the author shows how different cultural assumptions about old age influence family and household behaviour patterns and social policy in the two richest nations....Her book makes an important contribution to our understanding of complex modern societies. It should be required reading for all those with an interest in aging and social policy." The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

    "Overall, this book flows logically and is very easy to follow....It is hoped that many researchers will build upon the outcomes of this superb book." Noriko Tsukada, Social Gerontology

    "The Gift of Generations is written in many voices. The organization of this book flows in and out of these voices, and helps the reader understand the context and transformations of growing old in these two rapidly changing countries. The writing is scholarly and masterful..." Dana H. Davidson, Contemporary Sociology

    "Hashimoto contributes a deep and measured understanding of differences between U.S. and Japanese attitudes toward care of the elderly. Placing her study within the human dilemma of balancing egoism and altruism, Hashimoto contrasts dispositions toward deservedness, self-sufficiency, and dependency. The Gift of Generations is very valuable for its clear thinking on an issue of great relevance." American Anthropologist

    "The comparison [Hashimoto] draws out is both concrete and philosophical. We not only gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between culture and policy in Japan, but also a greater appreciation of the extent to which American values influence both the expectations of citizens and the making of policy in this country..." Susan O. Long, Ph.D., The Gerontologist

    "The author does an excellent job of identifying the concepts and cultural assumptions that define the contract between generations..." Emily M. Agree, American Journal of Sociology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521555203
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 9 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the social designation of deserving citizens
    The private discourse: expectations of vulnerability - the public discourse: responsibilities for intervention - values, interests, and symbolic equity: a framework of analysis
    2. Two communities - two societies: West Haven - Westside Odawara - comparing communities
    3. Rights and responsibilities in the public domain: entitlement, obligation, and equity - individual, family, and state
    4. The practice of protection and intervention in the private domain: inside the household - outside the household - family and network - the recognition of vulnerability
    5. The Japanese viewpoint: the protective approach
    6. The American viewpoint: the contingency approach
    7. Cultural assumptions and values: trajectories of need - conditions of security - intergenerational equity - primary bonds of affection - units of self-sufficiency - visions of resource affluence
    8. The social regulation of interests: credit, debt, and mutual interests - rights, responsibilities, and collective interests - the logic of symbolic equity - distribution of symbolic resources: empowerment and disempowerment - social and cultural constructions of support - vulnerability and security - entitlement and obligation - reciprocity and dependency - failures and costs
    9. Conclusion: Reflections on diversity and change.

  • Author

    Akiko Hashimoto, University of Pittsburgh

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