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M.zientek employment and_local__development_among_elderly_women-a_critical_approach_of_global_soc


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M.zientek employment and_local__development_among_elderly_women-a_critical_approach_of_global_soc

  1. 1. Marta ZientekInstytut EuropeistykiUniwersytet JagiellońskiE-mail: EMPLOYMENT AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENT AMONG ELDERLY WOMEN: A CRITICAL AP- PROACH OF GLOBAL SOCIAL CHANGE “Promoting Social Solidarity Economy means empowering people in a sustainable development perspective. It is also a way to increase their own entrepreneurship style in employment and self-employment policy of state.” Eric Lavilluniere, INEES General Coordinator The elderly population of today has few similarities with the elderlypopulation of the future global society. However, we can observe that theconcept of globalization often excludes the concept of sustainable andconscious participation of elderly people in full employment and thewhole global social change during the last decade. Nowadays, most ofthem suffer from the status imposed on them locally in the global era theylive and consequently they just simply wait for the retirement associatedto the final phase of their life, living oldness in a negative form, withmany prejudices and severe limitations on their everyday activities. Theirconscious and active taking part in every sphere of their life can be consi- 1
  2. 2. dered as a continuing development of themselves in their local employ-ment spaces, which are changing rapidly due to internationalization and“mcdolnatization” processes. Participation in continuing training activi-ties among all groups of ages should be perceived by researchers as themain factors in a way to constitute an effective strategy of development inthe level of human resources’ qualifications, ready to adapt to fast movingglobal transitions and changes. Furthermore, the conscious self-development maintains elderly workers and pensioners qualified through-out not only their professional life but also their everyday life. It is centralfor promoting and keeping the global development process in any regionand moreover due to that policy elderly citizens are professionally up-dated and prepared to go into new global activities. What’s more, thesefactors also focus on their general perceiving the space and time they liveand give them feeling of being still useful individuals by the fact of creat-ing their images of learning and obtaining experience, their intellectualflexibility. All these experiences they are able to affect with and givendimensions may help to suggest a strong and sustainable promotion offurther strategies for improving self-directed learning and learning to faci-litate the learning of the others. According to Paulo Freire’s point of viewpeople start feeling old in their minds at first, mainly when they get themessage that they should retire and do nothing because the younger aretaking their space in a strong competition in a local labour market: “ Age-ing without getting old… We are old or young, much more in the form aswe understand the world, of the availability of our dedication, curiosity,when knowing whose conquest never tires you and whose discovery nev-er leaves you passive and unsatisfied.”1 The active ageing considered by1 Freire P..: Educacao e Mudanca., Paz e Terra, Rio de Janeiro 1979, p. 88-89 2
  3. 3. the WHO for the first decade of XXI century, is defined as a process ofoptimization of chances not only for health and security but mostly forsocial participation. Social participation includes from the interpersonalexchanges to the right of action and duties of citizenship, as well as thecommunitarian social participation. All presented above measures of pre-vention of the elderly social exclusion are aimed to achieve active ageing.According to T. Bauman point of view this process should be perceived inthe whole life process and not to target only the engagement of elderlypeople. “There are lots of actions which could be included in, such as: theimplementation of well balanced economic-social-familiar policies, shareof life experiences in the family circle, differentiation of attitudes amongthe others.”2 Along with the creation of innovative projects, that fulfill theelderly needs, it should be promoted affective share and mutual helpbased on understanding the objects. Globalization process is one of themost impressive changes today and it provides many different effects andcauses in such scientific fields as: politics and economics, social causes,cultural and economic changes in daily life and work with influence onlifelong learning policy. Social causes have been closely related with cul-tural factors “because people’s identities change due to changes in every-day rituals which lost their meaning in the organization of our daily rou-tine.”3 A. Giddens considers economic factors as “the new significanceand organization of work because of changes in information technologies– the new electronic economy and the role of multinational corpora-tions.”4 But the notion of immaterial work is very stimulating and usefulfor local workers, mainly the elderly who work in constantly changing2 Bauman T.: Uczenie się jako przedsięwzięcie na całe życie., Universitas, Kraków 20053 Bruner J.: Życie jako narracja, Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny 1990, nr 44 Giddens A.: Citizenship in the global era, London IPRR Press, London 2000 3
  4. 4. work environment, without a specific space in the process of obtaining awork experience with a difficulty in differentiating between work life anddaily life of each simple employee. My re-search study focuses on the opinions of working women and is based onqualitative biographical research where data has been collected in theform of recording some individual interview among elderly women whoare still active professionally. The analysis of these narratives are stronglybased on the concepts of Chicago’s school of interactionism ( Znanieckiand Mead ). The research was conducted from April 2008 till June 2008.The aim of this research was to recognize elderly women’s interpretationsand attitudes towards the current stream of global changes and the neces-sity of taking part in some lifelong learning actions. The research questionwas “How do elderly women experience and interpret their life being in-volved in a strongly fast moving process of employment, rapidly chang-ing spaces connected with local actions and the development of their pro-fessions and finally their attitudes and opinions about the necessity oflifelong learning in Poland”. There are different ways to feel employed and develop personalityor just to be an active old citizenship nowadays. We can not omit a verytrendy European model of social economy / la economie sociale concept,which could be also known as “the economy of solidarity or simply citi-zenship economy focused mainly on marginalized social groups.”5 Theeconomy of solidarity is one of the most popular sector of economy be-cause of the lack and weaknesses of global actions and local governmentsrole. “The citizenship economy is a good notion to give the elderly astrong opportunity to act effectively in a local environment and to fulfill5 Bertelsen J.: Trzeci sektor jako pracodawca (w: W stronę aktywnej polityki pro społecznej),Instytut Spraw Społecznych, Warszawa 2001 4
  5. 5. all multistage social aims by the “employment” thanks to EU funds.”6Thanks to this idea of the third sector of economy, the elderly can buildtheir own “solidarity of employment” such as many local associations andsmall citizenship’s actions which give them the possibility to work active-ly and develop their socially oriented actions in a local area. Lifelonglearning in the form of local development such as The Third Age Univer-sity can be a good example in a global era of employment. AttendingTAU is similar to being a full-time employed and feeling still useful in aworkplace by acting locally in conditions of global market environment.The elderly presented and researched here, have decided to take lives intotheir hands and started doing classes in the Third Age University in a lo-cal space. Their actions are visible in this global social change apart fromthe fact that they are treated as useless by global institutions and globallabour market. Their lives are also a good example of a small local entre-preneurship which should be seen as a background to the whole globaleconomy. My research was directed to the women-students of the Third AgesUniversity in Szprotawa. These 60 interviewees attend four courses: Eng-lish, German, Vegetarian Cooking and Photo&Art but they also work asteachers, shop assistants, waitresses, nurses and social workers. The pre-sented text is the result of a biographical analysis of 60 people. The selected findings of the interviewees statements, placed duringentering the narrations, are very alike: - There have been some people in my family, who have decided toattend to the Third Age University apart from the fact that they’re stillemployed6 Youngman F.: The political economy of adult education and development., NIACE Press, Leice-ster 2000, p.7-8 5
  6. 6. - Participating in courses is mostly caused by the economy reasonsbut some of my elderly relevants have lost their self-esteem while lookingfor a job in our local area - I have graduated from the university with a reward and I did allmy best in my work but what I have got earlier and now is the one third ofa disability pension my family gets. I think that I forget about my prob-lems while attending classes -All the expenses are growing up fast but our salaries and pensions arealways too small to cover them, so thanks to taking part in cookingclasses I can learn how to prepare some cheap meals for my family – myhusband, who is also a pensioner and my two adult children, who cannotfind any well-paid job now - I’m a nurse by profession, so as you can imagine, my pension isreally cheap nowadays. All my family live close to German border and Ihave decided to participate in German course because I want to workabroad as a baby-sitter or adult/pensioner house care and I need to have acommon knowledge of that language to communicate fluently The reasons of taking classes in The Third Age University: - to live a suitable life - to escape from the poverty and the permanent lack of communica-tion with other elderly - to goaway from the place where our humanity is threatened - to getthe responsibility of daily life - to feelmore useful member of family - to geta better status in the own family and be respected by other mem-bers - to get back 6
  7. 7. feeling of safety - to protect the dig-nity and honor Attending courses as a way of fulfilling the dreams: - learning new foreign languages or reminding some knowledge - to get the taste of the adventure with something new in life - to touch the world of real vegetarian cuisine and eating manners - to allow the dreams to come true Lifelong learning as an opportunity to get more knowledge: - to learn a foreign language - to meet the other culture and places - to deepen the understanding of differences among the people Lifelong learning as a struggle for better life conditions: - a fight against himself/herself - the fight against the deadly fear - to fight the hard time of our life - that is a fight for human dignity The Third Age University is an opportunity for the elderly: - to live their own way - to be independent and follow their own needs and use them - to be autonomous and responsible for themselves Their active citizenship in The Third Age University as a fashion: - The social status of those elderly women who participated in 7
  8. 8. YAU’s classes is much more higher than the others. There were 11 inter-viewees who explained lifelong learning process as a way of being mod-ern and fashionable. They stressed that those elderly who spent some timein The Third Age University have a higher reputation: they are perceivedas brave, open minded and much more valued than other elderly. TheThird Age University students ( all of them are women ) claim that theirassociation based mainly their self-employment is possible thanks to EUfunds they are struggling for since the last two years. They are volunteersbut they have also the strong motivation to build their own association asa small entrepreneurial company which exists and act locally becausethere is still a need of the local society to obtain their work. Day by daythey learn how to work in groups and how to cooperate actively and beuseful for the local authorities and other citizens. All their initiatives areperceived as local entrepreneurship and leadership substitute for the lackand weakness of the governmental and local authorities actions.To sum up, including the old women perspectives of global socialchanges in labour market is scientifically useful, especially when the con-cept of new citizenship economy has appeared. I would like to point outthat the problem of the employment of the elderly still exists but there isan effective tool to build a bridge between full-employed and sociallyexcluded due to ageing process. The problem influence can be decreasedby involving social and professional actions locally. Both these actions,being not only a local citizenship struggle for better social life but also afight for employment fulfillment are good background for new employ-ment of solidarity policy. Furthermore, this new concept of social solidar-ity economy build some new alternative sectors of employment and “spe-cific local labour environment for marginalized and social excluded in a 8
  9. 9. global market.”7 Although we can observe this good vision of the futureof the elderly, a new question connected with opinions of the local go-vernmental authorities shouldn’t be omitted because it is worth to know.But I take into the consideration that there is a good opportunity to ob-serve the constantly changing environment of The Third Age Universityand focus on continuing this research by including some new perspectivesof new actors in structural society. And finally maybe there will be achance to do next study and present its results during upcoming confe-rences.BIBLIOGRAFIA:1. Bauman T.: Uczenie się jako przedsięwzięcie na całe życie., Universitas, Kraków 2005.2. Bertelsen J.: Trzeci sektor jako pracodawca (w: W stronę aktywnej polityki społecz- nej), Instytut Spraw Społecznych, Warszawa 20033. Bruner J.: Życie jako narracja., Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny 1990, nr 4.4. Freire P.: Educacao e Mudanca., Paz e Terra, Rio de Janeiro 19795. Giddens A.: Citizenship in the global era., London IPRR Press, Londyn 2006. Keohane R., Nye J.: Governing in a Globalizing World., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 20007. Kurantowicz E.: O uczących się społecznościach. Wybrane praktyki ludzi dorosłych. Wyd. Naukowe Dolnośląskiej Szkoły Wyższej, Wrocław 20078. Youngman F.: The political economy of adult education and development., NIACE Press, Leicester 20007 Keohane R., Nye J.: Governing in a Globalizing World, Cambridge Press 2000, a także w:Kurantowicz E.: O uczących się społecznościach. Wybrane praktyki ludzi dorosłych., Wydawnic-two Naukowe Dolnośląskiej Szkoły Wyższej, Wrocław 2007 9