Exploring the living arrangements of the elderly in rural China under the perspective of social interconstructionism

Residential characteristics of the elderly in Village A

Through a survey of 692 elderly people aged 60 and above in Village A, it was found that 379, or about 54.77%, lived with their children; 212, or about 30.64%, lived with their spouses; 46, or about 6.65%, lived with other relatives; and 55, or about 7.95%, lived alone. It is not difficult to find out through observation that the living environment among the elderly who live alone is relatively poor, most of them belong to rough housing and the facilities inside the house are simple.

Willingness of the elderly to live in village A

In the survey of village A, we also encountered the phenomenon that the elderly people’s willingness to live with their children was higher than the actual situation. Among 692 elderly people in Village A, 79.23% of them were willing to live with their children, 7.77% were indifferent, and 13.00% were unwilling. And 54.77% of the seniors in Village A actually live with their children.

Since families are not rich, many of them take the initiative to vacate their houses after their sons get married and move into relatively dilapidated houses by themselves. The elderly would like to live with their children, but if the elderly only have daughters, according to rural customs, the elderly do not live with their married daughters; or many young people refuse to live with the elderly for the reason of “inconvenience”; or after living for a period of time, due to emotional discord, the phenomenon of living alone in separate homes is also a lot. With the increase of working outside, it is difficult to live with family members.

Perspectives on the declining status of the elderly

The expansion of the culture of indoctrination to the relationship between adults must assume a stable culture. When the culture is unstable and the traditional approach is not sufficient to cope with the current problems, the correctional power must follow and shrink. The power of indoctrination focuses on the age stratification mechanisms in traditional societies.

The age stratification mechanism in traditional societies mainly lies in the fact that the older population has social resources, social status and respect because of their vast experience in survival. Older people stand in the upper echelon of social status because of the wealth of experience and experience they possess.

The declining social status of the elderly has become a recognized fact with rationality in terms of their living conditions. The fact of reasonableness of the declining status of the elderly is mainly reflected in two aspects.

One of them is the rational fact of declining family status. There is an important turning point in family status: the social status of both parents’ generation has changed greatly after their children get married, especially after the last children start a family.

First, there is the change in property. As the children become established, property is passed on to the children in the form of a bride price.

Second, there is the change in living conditions. The new house that the parents spent their life savings to build is exclusively for their sons and daughters-in-law to live in. Whether the parents can live in the new house or not often depends on the attitude of the sons and daughters-in-law. The most crucial thing is that these have become a rational fact in the countryside, the default rule of the public.

Secondly, it is a rational fact that social status has declined. In rural areas, it is possible to conclude whether a house is inhabited by an elderly person by the degree of its newness. This contributes to a large extent to the formation of an elderly subculture, which is a negative subculture formed on the basis of the low status of the elderly. In the atmosphere of this subculture, the declining social status of the elderly becomes a rational fact.

Social interconstructionism explains the declining social status of the elderly

The plurality of interconstructed subjects makes the problem of elderly people’s residence reflect the interconstructed relationship between individuals and society in a co-temporal and co-variant way. With the acceleration of social transformation, the traditional family model has been eroded in many ways: the advanced technology has changed the age stratification mechanism, the convenient transportation has distanced the young people from the elderly in their daily life, and the decline of traditional customs and the imitation of new customs have labeled some elderly people as “old traditions”.

These are the changes of the elderly with the changes of the society, and the co-temporality and co-variation between the elderly and the society. This mainly reflects that the problems of the elderly individuals may not be due to the fact that they grew up in rural areas and do not enjoy urban treatment, or that they are not capable of earning enough money to solve their own housing after meeting the housing problems of their children, or that they do not educate their children well or do not get along with their children to live in their new homes because of their personal misbehavior, but perhaps they change with the changes of the general social environment. A common phenomenon that arises with it.

The multidimensionality of interconstructed space-time reflects the dynamic continuity and dynamic vastness of the elderly, which is mainly manifested in two aspects of the elderly’s personal time and personal empty area.

First, the temporalization of older people with different life situations is also different, and the degree and quality of aging is also different. From birth to death, a person undergoes the role transformation of dependent-dependent (provider)-supportee, and this temporalization also marks the transformation of the social status acquired by individuals in modern society as low-high-low. The pluralistic comparison of the dynamic continuity of the elderly differs in their individual time periods, resulting in better residential arrangements for older cadres than for older farmers. This is not only because cadres are better than farmers in various aspects such as access to resources and earning wages, but also in terms of advanced concepts and ideas.

Secondly, individuals either go through many regions in their lifetime or keep growing in their hometowns until they die, and this experience of different empty areas will also have an impact on the availability of old age. Both the different temporal and spatial characteristics of the elderly will produce differences in the quality and manner of aging in place. These may appear to be the result of individual differences due to different life situations, but in essence they are the result of the great differences in the social environment caused by the urban-rural dichotomy.

This paper focuses on the living arrangement of the elderly in village A as an entry point, through the fact that the elderly are more willing to live with their children than the actual situation, the elderly themselves have less living area and residential decoration than other groups, especially the elderly who are not in a position to do so are vacating their main houses to their children and living in small allotment houses by themselves, and the elderly are living in poor conditions, all of which illustrate that the living arrangement of the elderly is a very important concern and All these show that the living arrangement of the elderly is an issue of great concern and needs to be solved.

The decline of the status of the elderly is implied behind the living arrangement of the elderly, including the decline of family status and social status. The problem of elderly people’s living arrangement is not only a problem of individual elderly people, but also a problem of their families.

Using sociological imagination, the problem of living arrangements of the elderly is also a problem faced by society in general, using the theory of social interconstruction at the level of individual and social relations. The problem of living arrangements of the elderly in rural areas and the implied decline in the status of the elderly are to some extent the result of the impact of traditional culture and new culture, depending on the social status of the dualistic urban-rural system, and also the result of the shaping of social pluralism. The problem of elderly people’s declining status is, to a certain extent, the result of the impact of traditional and new cultures.

In order to solve the problem of living arrangement of the elderly, we cannot rely on the individual factors of the elderly themselves and their families alone, but also need to analyze and solve the problem of living arrangement of the elderly from the macro perspective of the society.