Thematic Panel 8: Imagining an Alternative Future:  Aging and Caring in a Co-housing

María Offenhenden, Rovira i Virgili University
Nina Navajas-Pertegás, University of Valencia

Against the backdrop of the progressive aging of society, changing family patterns and gender roles, and the resulting care deficit, co-housings are emerging as an alternative care arrangement option for a new generation of seniors that express different ideas and demands on how to age. They reject passivity and solitude -associated to institutional and home-care settings-, and pursue aging in a community model based on active participation and citizenship.

Co-housings are based on the values of solidarity and mutual aid, providing new elements for the social organization of care, currently marked by deep social and gender inequalities in the provision and access to care. The importance given to personal autonomy, participatory management, and collective decision-making about the organization and use of time and space in everyday life are all elements that enable the configuration of alternative settings for aging and caring. These factors challenge the domestic/institutional and private/public divide in care arrangements and result in new ways of interaction amongst the family, the state, the market, and civil society in care provision for the elderly, broadening the possibilities of aging and caring in alternative ways.

The aim of the panel is to extend social research debates about community care, focusing on the needs and desires of older people and how do they appropriate, perceive and shape care. In order to move in this direction, we welcome theoretical and empirical papers addressing the experiences of seniors forming and/or living in a co-housing, taking into account its multiple modalities (self-managed or co-managed with private or public partners; senior, multigenerational or intergenerational), in different national contexts and diverse care provision systems. Moreover, we intend to discuss the potentialities, tensions and contradictions involved in these community-led projects in regards to universalizing access to care, the redistribution of resources and the curbing of social and gender inequalities, highlighting the dis/continuities with the aging-in-place and institutional care models. We will also consider papers analyzing the impact of the Covid-19 sanitary crisis in co-housing ventures.

Posted in Conference 2021, Thematic Panels.