The Role of Relevancy and Social Suffering in Generativity Among Older Post-Soviet Women Immigrants

November 1, 2013


  • Kate de Medeiros

This paper examines generativity, social suffering, and culture change in a sample of 16 women aged 65 years or older who emigrated from the former Soviet Union. Key concerns with generativity are identity, which can be strongly rooted in one’s original cultural formation, and a stable life course, which is what ideally enables generative impulses to be cultivated in later life. To better understand how early social suffering may affect later life generativity, we conducted two 90-min interviews with each of our participants on their past experiences and current views of generativity. The trauma of World War II, poor quality of life in the Soviet Union, scarcity of shelter and supplies, and fear of arrest emerged as common components in social suffering, which affected their identity.Overall the theme of broken links to the future—the sense that their current lives were irrelevant to future generations—was strong among informants in their interviews, pointing to the importance of life course stability in relation to certain forms of generativity.

Gerontologist, 55 (4), 526-536. doi:

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