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The Gift of Generations

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


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

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About the Authors
  • Modern societies today contend with population dynamics that have never before existed. As the number of older people grows, these countries must determine how best to provide for the needs of this population. The constraints are real: fiscal and material resources are finite and must be shared in a way that is perceived as just. As such, societies confront the fundamental question of who gets what, how, and why, and ultimately must reappraise the principles determining why some people are considered more worthy of help than others. This study systematically explores the Japanese and American answers to this fundamental question. This is the only US-Japan comparative work of its kind, utilizing systematically comparable data from both countries. It also draws on interview material that presents the choices, disappointments, and satisfactions of old age in the individual's own words.

    • 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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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1996
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521555203
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • 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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