Aging, Community Relations and Multiculturalism
AGING, COMMUNITY RELATIONS AND MULTICULTURALISM
“Power”, “Justice”, “Freedom”, and “Security” are abstract and relational concepts that need to be anchored into time and space. We enter society at birth, age, and die. At each life-cycle stage we modify and change the dynamics of our social location.
As Margaret Abraham states, “Both global economic and geo-political processes create crises and massive displacements of people and, at the same time, fuel racism, nationalism and xenophobia.” This causes dramatic changes in neighbourhood and community relations for “old timers” and “new comers” alike.
The aging individuals are caught up in this turmoil with both psychological and social effects.
Sociologists focus on social structures and interrelationships as the unit of analysis in trying to understand this international crisis, creating practical guides for “responsible” responses.
Societies like Canada have enacted multiculturalism into law, making provision for displaced persons to maintain their own cultures and languages.
In fact, when we take the neighbourhood or community as a unit of analysis, we discover social structures as separate pillars with weak cross-cutting links. There is a need to re-visit the concept of “multiculturalism, “ in order to create “multicultural citizens” of BOTH newcomers and existing residents, thus developing links which will make the social fabric stronger.
In this community building process, we need to focus on the strengths and contributions of all aging individuals.