Dissertation Abstracts

‘Ayah Culture’: Ageing, Illness and Reconceptualization of Care and Intimacy

Author: Sayendri Panchadhyayi, sayendri@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Presidency University, Kolkata, India
Supervisor: Sumita Saha
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: India

Keywords: Aging , Care , illness , intergenerational exchange
Areas of Research: Health , Family Research , Body in the Social Sciences


The multiple vicissitudes of globalisation, urbanisation and the embedding of capitalist principles in the modern work culture has fostered structural transformation and ideological reconceptualization of families both in the West and Indian sub-continents. An impetus on the healthcare system, thrust on research in alleviating chronic diseases, and incorporation of medical technology in improving the quality of health and enhancing life expectancy that has contributed in the rise of the grey population. Geriatrics or geriatric medicine, although a dormant specialization within the rubric of institutionalized allopathic medicine is gradually being taken seriously to cater to the heterogeneous elderly population posing diversities in morbidity. An illustration of this is the introduction of the geriatric OPD (Out Patient Department) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, an initiative undertaken by the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly. The parallel factors of changing nature and disposition of family system in India along with the growth of the elderly members in the family has created the concern of care crisis or care vacuum within the private sphere of ‘home’ pushing the contemporary families into an abyss of newer challenges and entanglements. This backdrop becomes an entry point to navigate, ruminate and engage in a contentious debate regarding the transforming canons of care and intimacy, and the emerging caring networks in delivery and dissemination of care for the aged. Considering the perception of affective labour as feminine and compatible for women, the outsourcing of paid care work in the form of ayahs through the ayah centres is becoming common in urban enclaves of cities. Through the interweaving of multiple methods of phenomenological research, narrative research, case study method and focused group discussions, this study aims to become significant in social gerontology, geriatrics, family and demographic research.