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Session Overview
RN01_09a_P: Social Networks
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Håkan Jönson, Lund University
Location: PE.6.41
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: E, Level: 6.

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The Strength of “grey ties”: a case study of self-managed community centres for elderly people in Tuscia district – Italy.

Tony Urbani

Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Italy

The present work aims to overturn the common sense about elderly people as passive subject benefited by social welfare, showing an inedited vison of senior citizens, here shown as active people and leaders in local communities.

This qualitative-quantitative research is based on 393 cases divided in more than 20 social centres in Viterbo district (known as Tuscia Viterbese) in Italy and to what extent social capital (in specific environment) can be a flywheel for empowerment, trust, health and happiness for senior citizen. The mix of social capital and democratic environment in community centres that are self-managed by seniors and the fact that they can really decide activities and ruling class are crucial elements for well-being and happiness of seniors. This study shows that social capital could reduce daily hospitalization, medicines consumption while increasing perceived happiness.

The community centres for elderly people managed by ANCeSCAO NGO are not just a case of excellence (even with some critical issues as e.g. communication and conflicts), but they could be also a bridge for new welfare for seniors, an empowering and enabler social welfare, where bottom-up processes are balanced with top-down ones.

Elderly people involved in ANCeSCAO NGO in Tuscia district display availability to help the local communities, some of them are involved in voluntary activities or fundraiser for poor people and earthquake victims in Italy.

Keywords: Social capital; Elderly people, Empowerment, Democracy, Civic engagement, Trust and Happiness.

"Not just any club" – A regard to the 'hows', 'whens' and 'whys' of building collective wisdom in older adults' group activities

Jenni Spännäri

University of Helsinki, Finland

Research on wisdom has been of increased interest in sociology and developmental psychology. Also the ways to become wise are explored in many current theories in the individual level (eg. Glück & Bluck 2014). But could wisdom be shared property, and becoming wiser a joint effort?

This paper investigates the process of creating, cultivating and sharing wisdom in study groups of older adults belonging to an active, young-old segment of the older population. It shows, how wisdom is constructed both through participants’ own experiences and through role models – and how it could be developed further into an utilizable, shared scheme for thought and action.

This paper will also shed light on the diverse functions of study groups and group activities for and by older adults.

'Does Size Matter?' Social Networks and Network Satisfaction in Age

Ronny König, Ariane Bertogg

University of Zurich, Switzerland

Intimate relationships are important for any human being and constitute a valuable resource for support. However, despite longer life expectancy and thus an increasing extent of sharing contacts, previous research has paid more attention on social networks in young adulthood than in old age. With respect to lower birth rates and rising divorce rates increased retirement age and generally higher social and geographical mobility, intimate relationships are in danger of becoming more volatile. This applies especially to the second half of life, where children move out, health and mobility limitations increase, relatives pass away and the contact with former colleagues diminishes.

Against this backdrop, this study investigates the size of and satisfaction with social networks of persons aged 50+ in various European countries on the basis of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We focus on emotional ties, addressing the following questions: (1) How small or large are social networks of the elderly?, (2) Who belongs to the social network and how satisfied are they with their social networks?, (3) Are there gender- and/or country-specific differences? and (4) Does network size and constitution matter for network satisfaction? In all countries, women reported significantly larger networks and a greater network satisfaction than men. Furthermore, the larger the social network the greater the satisfaction of women and men. However, this link varies between countries and is dependent on a series of exogenous factors.

Everyday Activity Limitations and Social Networks of Older Adults: Longitudinal Evidence from the SHARE survey

Liili Abuladze1, Luule Sakkeus1, Adriana Santacroce2

1Estonian Institute for Population Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia; 2La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Studying the role of social networks in health outcomes helps to understand how surrounding social environment, particularly interactions with other people, influence health. Cross-sectional analysis of the European older adults has shown that network size is slightly bigger for those with less severe limitations, but smallest for those with severe limitations compared to the non-limited population, indicating that there is a changing dynamic with regard to networks depending on the level of activity limitations. Some countries such as Switzerland, France and Belgium indicated having more diverse networks whereas Austria, Estonia, Hungary and Portugal had more family-based networks. (Abuladze & Sakkeus 2013). This paper aims to understand how the dynamics of social networks are related to disability outcomes among older Europeans. The main research question is the following: Which type of social networks lead to the onset of disability? We use the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) Waves 4, 5 and 6. The change in the Global Activity Limitation Index (GALI), identifying three levels of severity of actvitiy limitations as our main health outcome variable. Social network characteristics will be used as main independent variables. First descriptive results indicate that Estonian older adults have remained the most disabled people among the participating countries - 29% of them are severely limited by Wave 6. Estonian and Italian older adults have lost the most network members since Wave 4. These are also the only countries where people have lost more members than added during this time. Swiss older adults see no change in the number of social networks; Austrian, Spanish and Slovenian older adults have added the most network members.

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