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Living Longer, Living Harder: Ageing in Extreme Poverty in Bangladesh
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6601-6222
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this dissertation is to understand the lived experience of age-ing in extreme poverty in developing countries, in this case Bangladesh, a country that hosts a large number of extreme poor and ageing population. By focusing on the role of the family, the most neglected pillar of welfare, this dissertation sheds new light on the microprocesses of welfare politics. By doing so, it unravels the complexity and precariousness that characterises the lived experiences of the older persons, and the relational embeddedness of ageing in extreme poverty, which often makes bargaining, under conditions of scarce resources, an essential process.

This dissertation seeks to make contribution at the empirical, theoretical, and methodological levels. Empirically, it explores processes of generational transfer of disadvantages that create the conditions leading to the experience of extreme poor late life. Theoretically it helps us reconceptualise extreme poverty as ‘agency poverty’ associated with ageing. By adopting a life course approach, the dissertation advances our understanding of ageing and extreme poverty being inspired by postmodern and postcolonial in-sights, thus highlighting the importance of othering and agency erosion mechanisms. The dissertation also formulates the concept of ‘relational security’, arguing that the older persons’ search for wellbeing and security primarily revolves around their relations. The level of ‘relational security’ is therefore a crucial marker of wellbeing and security during the late life. Lastly, methodologically, and relying on an activist approach, the dissertation challenges some of the conventional ways of doing research. It emphasises the need both to duly recognise the power and agency of the vulnerable research participants and to facilitate a space to exercise their power and agency. It also advocates for researchers to be more mindful about their accountability to the research participants.

The dissertation discusses the policy implications of the findings and highlights that poverty policies and interventions should be concerned about ‘agency poverty’ and add provisions that contribute towards restoring older persons’ agency by, for example, empowering them politically. Policymakers also need to be aware that individuals’ different levels of relational embeddedness play a critical role in deter-mining the outcome of policy interventions tackling extreme poverty in old age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University , 2022. , p. 86
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 45
Keywords [en]
Ageing, Agency, Extreme Poverty, Generational Bargain, Life History Interviews, Othering, Postcolonial, Qualitative, Social Policy, Welfare Regimes
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-102119ISBN: 9789175294780 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-102119DiVA, id: diva2:1709387
Public defence
2022-12-19, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-11-08 Created: 2022-11-08 Last updated: 2022-12-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Generational Bargain, Transfer of Disadvantages and Extreme Poverty: A Qualitative Enquiry from Bangladesh
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Generational Bargain, Transfer of Disadvantages and Extreme Poverty: A Qualitative Enquiry from Bangladesh
2020 (English)In: European Journal of Development Research, ISSN 0957-8811, E-ISSN 1743-9728, no 32, p. 1173-1194Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Why do the poor stay poor? And, crucially, why are their children likely to be poor and end up poor later in life? This is a familiar question in the fields of development, social policy and economics alike. Bangladesh has seen notable successes in reducing poverty, and yet, addressing the transfer of deprivations and disadvantages within and between generations still poses a major challenge for policy-makers. To date, literature on inter-generational poverty remains dominated by large quantitative panel data. By contrast, this study draws on a unique qualitative dataset of 72 extreme poor households across Bangladesh, examining how inter- and intra-generational bargains generate extreme poverty. It is argued that, while poverty is transferred inter-generationally, it is not transferred equally. Rather, transferred disadvantages are shaped by persistent forms of deprivation, discrimination and a household-level political economy that is highly gendered. The inter-generational transfer of poverty should be seen as a dynamic and negotiated process that is crucially shaped by intra-generational bargains.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Palgrave Macmillan, 2020
Keywords
Bangladesh, Disadvantages, Extreme poverty, Gender, Generational bargain
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-80636 (URN)10.1057/s41287-020-00261-4 (DOI)000516790100001 ()2-s2.0-85080091787 (Scopus ID)
Note

Funding Agencies:

European Union (EU) 754285

UK aid from the UK Government  GB-1-107402

Available from: 2020-03-13 Created: 2020-03-13 Last updated: 2022-11-24Bibliographically approved
2. Othering and Agency Erosion of Older Adults Living in Extreme Poverty
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Othering and Agency Erosion of Older Adults Living in Extreme Poverty
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-102379 (URN)
Available from: 2022-11-24 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2022-11-24Bibliographically approved
3. Family's Roles as a Welfare Pillar: The Case of Older Persons Living in Extreme Poverty in Bangladesh
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Family's Roles as a Welfare Pillar: The Case of Older Persons Living in Extreme Poverty in Bangladesh
2023 (English)In: Development Policy Review, ISSN 0950-6764, E-ISSN 1467-7679, Vol. 41, no 2, article id e12679Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Motivation: Many mainstream welfare theories developed by social scientists and applied by economists and policymakers underestimate families’ roles in providing welfare to citizens. This is surprising given that the family constitutes one of the main welfare pillars across typologies of the welfare state.

Purpose: This article seeks to explore the role of the family as a welfare pillar with an ageing perspective. We aimed to test whether the family serves as a space for negotiations to improve wellbeing and achieve security in the absence of effective formal mechanisms.

Methods and approach: Applying the framework of “informal security regimes” (Wood, 2004), this article draws on 37 life history interviews collected from older persons living in extreme poverty in Bangladesh. Recurring themes are identified and analysed to explore the relationship between family and wellbeing/security.

Findings: We find that family relationships are often central in the pursuit of security. This shows how welfare delivery in low- and middle-income countries (L&MICs), in this case Bangladesh, is deeply rooted in reciprocal family systems where all members actively fulfil moral and material expectations. Pursuing this collective goal can take different forms relative to each member's physical and mental capacity, position, gender, and age. Building on the empirical evidence, we propose the concept of “relational security” as a crucial marker and shaper of wellbeing.

Policy implications: To be effective, welfare policies need to better consider how the conception and experiences of wellbeing and security, especially for the older persons living in extreme poverty, are deeply embedded within the complex functioning of the relationships that can shape welfare outcomes in different directions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing, 2023
Keywords
Ageing, Bangladesh, extreme poverty, family, social policy, welfare regimes
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-102378 (URN)10.1111/dpr.12679 (DOI)000913372700001 ()2-s2.0-85146463335 (Scopus ID)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 754285
Available from: 2022-11-24 Created: 2022-11-24 Last updated: 2023-06-22Bibliographically approved
4. Getting Extreme Poverty Narrated: Methodological Challenges of Interviewing Older Persons
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Getting Extreme Poverty Narrated: Methodological Challenges of Interviewing Older Persons
2021 (English)In: International Journal of Qualitative Methods, E-ISSN 1609-4069, Vol. 20, p. 1-11, article id 16094069211016716Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interviewing different groups involves different challenges and opportunities. Older persons living in extreme poverty are among those who warrant special methodological considerations. Building on the experiences of life-history interviews with extreme poor older persons in Bangladesh, this article contributes with a methodological reflection on the interview process from the start to the end. The article highlights the key practical, emotional, and ethical concerns that impact the interview process. Adopting an activist approach, it asserts that offering additional power and (or) agency to poor and vulnerable participants yields more benefit to research. The article challenges the traditional consent-seeking process as it remains short of protecting the participants fully. Period of silence appears to be crucial in interviews for which a researcher should devise schemes on how to manage and analyze silence as a non-textual interview content. The paper stresses on the need to frame plans and protocols for the researchers themselves as they can be exposed to mental, physical, or social harm. It recommends reformulation of the idea of accountability toward the research participants in relation to incentivisation, dissemination and reporting back to the community. Understanding all such nuances and careful dealing of micro-ethical aspects are crucial to succeed in an interview. The article can be particularly beneficial for early-stage researchers who conduct interviews with people living in extreme poverty, as it makes them more aware and prepared to deal with the possible challenges inherent in different stages of the interview process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2021
Keywords
qualitative research, research ethics, interviews, extreme poverty, older persons, Bangladesh
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-91915 (URN)10.1177/16094069211016716 (DOI)000755745700001 ()2-s2.0-85106012964 (Scopus ID)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 754285
Available from: 2021-05-24 Created: 2021-05-24 Last updated: 2024-01-17Bibliographically approved

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