Exploring intergenerational relational experiences during shared preparation of traditional food in rural communities
This study forms part of the Come dine with me Batswana meals! Exploring intergenerational relations through the exchange of traditional food knowledge in rural South Africa, a sub-study of a broader project, WIN platform project. The overall aim of 'Come dine with me Batswana meals!' was to explore current traditional food knowledge and the transmission of this knowledge through intergenerational relations among women from rural households in the Vaalharts region of South Africa. Due to the global ageing of populations, the generations are likely to share different interpersonal spaces for longer. Limited studies have explored the relational experiences of generations of unrelated community members through traditional food programmes. This research is important because it focuses on psychosocial behaviour on a community level and aims to contribute to finding appropriate intergenerational programmes for daily-living contexts in which generational members find themselves. This study sets out to explore the relational experiences of women from different generational group who participated in the shared preparation of traditional food. The research is underpinned by Self-Interactional and Group Theory (SIGT) and General Systems Theory (GST). A qualitative study was conducted with 60 women participants, 20 of whom represented the older generation (50 years and older), 20 middle generational members (21 to 49 years) and 20 younger people (14 to 20 years) from two South African communities. Valspan, situated in a semi-urban area, and Sekhing, in a rural area, form part of the Vaalharts region in the Northern Cape and the North West Province of South Africa respectively. Data were collected in Phase 2 (Intergenerational Activity) and Phase 3 (Focus Group Discussions) of the broader WIN platform project and were thematically analysed. Findings revealed that the generational members had all experienced negative subjective perceptions in relation to relational interactions before the intergenerational activity (IGA), and had experienced positive subjective perceptions after the IGA. Change in generational members' emotions contributed to change in perceptions and, thus confirmed that open systems have the potential to alter, given the right circumstances. A further outcome is that group identities previously described in stereotypical and judgemental terms also changed, as a result generations adopted a circular approach. As a result, all generations were able to identify themselves in a collective manner. In conclusion, the preparation of traditional food as an intergenerational activity has demonstrated a different way in which people relate and interact and how their participation in the activity can assist in uniting different generations and enabling them to identify as a group: "we and not they". It is recommended that more research be undertaken on intergenerational activities that might enable different generations to view one another in a positive way in order to alleviate tension and improve relational interactions.
- Health Sciences