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Ageing and Migration


Wed 26. 8.  18:00 - 19:30
room FA 204

Who cares? Life satisfaction and family support amongst aging Turkish immigrants


Liversage, Anika
SFI - the Danish national centre for social research, Denmark

Based on interviews (done in Turkish and Kurdish) with 35 first-generation immigrants from Turkey, now in their 70s, this paper investigates satisfaction with living arrangements in old age. Having arrived to Denmark four decades ago, these labour migrants are today growing old “in exile” (“gurbet”) and are often poor and in frail health. Moreover, their knowledge about – and their openness towards – Danish welfare measures is limited, making them turn to their adult children for support. Applying a transnational perspective, this paper investigates how the aging immigrants combine different home and host country elements in their own “bricolage” constructions when presenting their life situations. Extending Katy Gardners work (2002) on the polar opposition between home and host countries when narrating life in old age, this paper investigates interplays between different pathways into, and different narratives of, growing old: Interviewees who co-habited with or lived close by, adult children (receiving comprehensive family support) generally expressed pride over having successfully passed on the “good values” from Turkey. Immigrants without such family support, however, either distanced themselves from such practices (considered to overburden children in their busy lives). Or they mourned that a perceived Western corruption of family values had caused a post-migration break-down of family solidarity. The paper shows that while across these aging immigrants, country-of-origin norms and practices may be perceived differently, the next generation’s ability and willingness to provide family care overall seems centrally implicated in aging immigrants’ life satisfaction. This may entail a considerable strain on the adult second generation.