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Work, aging and dependency in a Sherpa population in Nepal

Social Science & Medicine

Author: Beall, Cynthia M., Goldstein, Melvyn C.
Year: 1982
Type: Journal Article


A conceptual framework is suggested for the cross-cultural study of dependency to encourage & facilitate data-based cross-cultural comparisons. It offers an etic, operational definition encompassing biological, activity, & economic components, but also emphasizes that the emic definition is crucial for understanding a situation. The utility of distinguishing several components of an etic definition of dependency, & distinguishing etic from emic definitions, is illustrated using the example of the Sherpas in Helambu, Nepal. From the etic viewpoint, the Sherpas are apparently healthy, economically productive, & physically active, & therefore lie near the independent end of the dependency continuum. However, the emigration in recent years of many young adults has produced a demographic situation where few elderly can follow the tradition of sharing their households with their youngest son & his family. Although most elderly Sherpas have other offspring or relatives in the village, the majority live alone; reliance on someone other than the youngest son for lodging or food is prejoratively viewed as dependency. Their emic definition of dependency is different from the Western definition, & both differ from what is referred to as etic dependency.

Further Details

Full Title Social Science & Medicine
Pages 141-147
Volume 16
Issue 2
Accession Number 18.3.03
Research Notes Electronic copy added 17/07/2013
Keywords Asiaolderhealth improvementNepalSouth Asia

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