Perceived Incentives and Barriers to Social Participation
The Case of Older Adults Living Alone in Lithuania
Social (non)participation is one of the key elements associated with social exclusion in old age. Scholarship about this topic tends to rely mainly on quantitative research from Western and Northern European countries. The aim of this article, based on qualitative interviews with older people (N=27) in Lithuania, is to give some insight into how older people in an Eastern European country experience social participation, and the reasons they offer for abstaining from engaging in it. Findings are contradictory: social participation is valued by older people for both direct and indirect reasons (e.g. a desire to simply be among people), but they hesitate to participate for a variety of reasons. The article contributes to the academic discussion by providing insights into older people’s perspectives about social participation, their preferences, and, in particular, the backdrop that particular organizations (such as the church) can play in promoting social participation and consequently strengthening the social inclusion of older adults in post-communist countries.
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