An exploration of the intergenerational relationships between young adults and older people in the Khuma community
Mabaso, Thato Palesa Penelope
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Intergenerational research aims to promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contribute to building more cohesive communities. Intergenerational relationships form part of our social make–up as they affect social interactions, the use of local spaces, opportunities to take part in public life on an equal basis with others, the degree to which people participate in community life as well as efforts to improve such life. Research indicates that what matters most for young adults and older people is the quality of the interactions taking place between them. Very little is known about the nature of the intergenerational relationships between young adults and older people in an African context. The aim of the study was therefore to explore the intergenerational relationships between young adults and older people in a rural African community. A qualitative research method was used in the study. Two groups of participants were selected though availability sampling method. The group consisted of 11 male participants between 20 to 35 years of age, 6 participants were over the age of 60 (one male and five female). The younger participants were asked to make visual representations of how they perceive the older generation by means of using the Mmogo–method. After the younger participants described their visual representations, the older participants were asked to reflect on the descriptions given by the younger participants. The older people assumed an active listening position while the young adults shared their representations. Informal group discussion was used to facilitate a process of sharing and comparing of perceptions among the participants. The data obtained from the group discussions and applying the Mmogomethod were analysed on the basis of thematic and visual analysis. The trustworthiness of the study was ensured through crystallisation. The results indicate that the relationships between young adults and older people consist of the ambivalent perceptions of the young adults and mostly extreme negative perceptions of older people. As a result, the relationships between the young and old generations seem to be dissatisfying for both generations. Both young and old discover essential tensions in the relationships they create and sustain across generations. Intergenerational tensions may not be so easily identified or concretely observable in everyday behaviour, attitudes, and emotions. But, consistent with the dialectical framework, it is part of all intergenerational relationships at some level. Identifying these underlying tensions is important so that we do not glorify or idealise the interactions of young and old whenever and wherever they occur. Solidarity is not the only outcome of intergenerational relationships; ambivalence as well as conflict is a part of the theory that has often been neglected. In view ofthe importance of intergenerational relationships between the young adults and the older people, intergenerational interventions should be planned to promote the effective negotiation of intergenerational relationships between older persons and the younger generation.
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