Barbara Pieta

Ph.D Candidate

Current Project

Research Interests
Anthropology of Aging, Anthropology of Kinship, Anthropology of Senescence

Research Area
Veneto, Italy

This research is carried out in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. It is part of the Max Planck International Research Network on Aging ( MaxNetAging)

Barbara Pieta is closely linked to the departmental research on Kinship Universals and Variations

Growing Old in North-East Italian Town of Bassano del Grappa

Set in the town of Bassano del Grappa, Northeast Italy, this project investigates people’s engagement with categories of ‘third’ and ‘fourth age’. Until the 1930s, when industrial employment started to replace the previously dominant mezzadria (sharecropping) system, old age had been associated with a privileged position in kinship groups and the wider community. However more recently, particularly with the rapid ageing of the population and shrinking welfare state provisions, old age has become associated with costly and extensive periods of senescence – and is now seen as a challenge to the individual’s, their families’ and the community’s welfare.

Barbara Pieta researches the ways in which elderly residents conceptualize and enact their membership in kin and community groups. What statuses and roles are now available and how are these constructed, controlled and negotiated between various actors at the community and family level? Pieta’s goal is to understand, how characteristics and internal dynamics of kin and non-kin networks affect the ways in which elderly residents experience and articulate their old age. In order to analyse the kin- and non-kin networks of the elderly, she aims to combine her ethnographic research with statistical data on the elderly’s social networks obtained through the KNQ2.

The function of KNQ software in this project is to collect social network data of aged individuals. The data will then be used to test ethnographically elicited hypotheses on various factors that are likely to affect the residential and eldercare arrangements occurring locally. Specifically, Barbara aims to test whether an association exists between residential situation at old age and:
residential distance from daughters / sons, intergenerational exchange across the life course, emotional closeness, education and occupation of adult children.

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