Experiencing It like a “Gogo”: Intergenerational Relationships in South Africa

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:54 AM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Jacobus HOFFMAN , Sociology, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, Oxford, United Kingdom
“Gogo” is the Zulu word (from “ugogo”) for grandmother and this paper will focus on the pivotal role of older women in the context of entrenched inequality and pervasive poverty. An estimated 1,2 million so-called HIV/AIDS orphaned children, of whom around sixty percent reside in grandparent-headed households, exacerbate this and obviously place on the research and policy agenda the continuous asymmetrical dependency and needs of younger generations on older generations. Although these grandmothers’ contributions are increasingly recognised, current explanations of the dynamics within these multi-generational networks lack a nuanced understanding of their complex and ambiguous nature. Drawing on 58 narratives from different generations (a generational sequential approach) in 20 multi-generational networks, this contribution qualitatively explores grandmotherhood in Mpumalanga, South Africa towards a deeper understanding of such intergenerational relationships. The main findings relate to the intrinsic and extrinsic vulnerability of the sacrificing older carer in resource-constrained and uncertain contexts. This has implications for them at the nexus of their individual rights and their future care outcomes.