This article discusses findings from a study exploring the inner world of older people's life experiences and how they felt about being old. Freedom, slowing down, loss, changes, companionship, loneliness, faith, and active engagement were main themes. Social access provided opportunities for older people to fulfill their sense of belonging and productivity. They believed "being old is being sick." Because they were capable, they did not think they were old. They felt aging not only meant losing independence and dignity, but also having more experiences. These findings are critical for Extension educators, who should rethink the meaning of aging and how to respond to the needs of the elderly.
Everman relates, "is to stimulate the reader's recreative and imaginative task by offering only the essentials...Kosinski's style draws the reader into the incident by refusing to allow him to remain passive" (25). This essay will propose that Being There is a major existential work following in the tradition of Sartre and Camus in which Chance, the main protagonist, mirrors Camus's Mersault in A H...
For the better part of the last century, conceptions of citizenship,despite many differences, have had one thing in common: the idea thatthe necessary framework for citizenship is the sovereign, territorialstate. The legal status of citizen is essentially the formalexpression of membership in a polity that has definite territorialboundaries within which citizens enjoy equal rights and exercise theirpolitical agency. In other words, citizenship, both as a legal statusand as an activity, is thought to presuppose the existence of aterritorially bounded political community, which extends over time andis the focus of a common identity. In the last twenty years, thispremise has come under close scrutiny. A host of phenomena, looselyassociated under the heading ‘globalisation’, haveencouraged this critical awakening: exploding transnational economicexchange, competition and communication as well as high levels ofmigration, of cultural and social interactions have shown how porousthose borders have become and led people to contest the relevance andlegitimacy of state sovereignty.
But the democratic process can fulfil its role only if it achieves acertain level of output legitimacy: appropriate levels of solidarityare sustainable only if basic standards of social justice aresatisfied (Habermas 2001a, 76). If it is to remain a source ofsolidarity, citizenship has to be seen as a valuable status,associated not only with civil and political rights, but also with thefulfilment of fundamental social and cultural rights (Habermas 1998,118–119).
Postnationalists do not dispute the key role played by the nation inmaking republican politics possible in large modern states. They agreethat reference to a common nationality allowed the politicalmobilization of their inhabitants, calling on their shared descent,history or language. But democracy’s association with thenation-state is contingent rather than necessary. And this, it isargued, means that democratic politics can, in principle, free itselffrom its historical moorings. Postnationalists claim that thisdissociation is not only possible, but necessary for moral andpragmatic reasons (Habermas 1998, 132).
Critics of this (failed) universalism have proposed an alternativeconception of citizenship based on the acknowledgment of the politicalrelevance of difference (cultural, gender, class, race, etc.). Thismeans, first, the recognition of the pluralist character of thedemocratic public, composed of many perspectives, none of which shouldbe considered a priori more legitimate. Second, it entailsthat, in certain cases at least, equal respect may justifydifferential treatment and the recognition of special minorityrights.
Critics argued that the model proves exclusionary if one interpretsuniversal citizenship as requiring (a) the transcendence ofparticular, situated perspectives to achieve a common, general pointof view and (b) the formulation of laws and policies that aredifference-blind (Young 1989). The first requirement seemsparticularly odious once generality is exposed as a myth covering themajority’s culture and conventions. The call to transcendparticularity too often translates into the imposition of the majorityperspective on minorities. The second requirement may producemore inequality rather than less since the purported neutrality ofdifference-blind institutions often belies an implicit bias towardsthe needs, interests and identities of the majority group. This biasoften creates specific burdens for members of minorities, i.e. moreinequality.
The universalist model was aggressively targeted at the end of the1980s as the moral and cultural pluralism of contemporary liberalsocieties elicited increasing theoretical attention. Scepticismtowards the universalist model was spurred by concerns that theextension of citizenship rights to groups previously excluded had nottranslated into equality and full integration, notably in the case ofAfro-Americans and women (Young 1989; Williams 1998). A questioning ofthe causal relation assumed between citizenship as a uniform legalstatus and civic integration followed.
This analysis is tied to a wider literature on the virtues required ofcitizens in pluralist liberal democracies and on ways to favour theirdevelopment. Stephen Macedo (1990), William Galston (1991), and EamonnCallan (1997), among others, have all emphasized the importance ofpublic reasonableness. This virtue is defined as the ability to listento others and formulate one’s own position in a way that issensitive to, and respectful of, the different experiences andidentities of fellow citizens, acknowledging that these differencesmay affect political views. But how and where does one develop thisand related virtue(s)? If a differentiated model of citizenship simplyallows individuals and groups to retreat into their particularenclaves, how are they to develop either the motivation or thecapacity to participate in a common forum?
Since the public and private “are, and always have been,inextricably connected” (Okin 1992,69), the upshot of thefeminist critique is not simply to make models of citizenshipinclusive by recognizing that women are individuals or to acknowledgethat they too can be citizens. Rather, we must see how laws andpolicies structure personal circumstances (e.g. laws about rape andabortion, child-care policies, allocation of welfare benefits, etc.)and how some ‘personal problems’ have wider significanceand can only be solved collectively through political action (Pateman1989, 131). This does not make the distinction irrelevant and thecategories collapsible. But it does mean that the boundaries betweenpublic and private should be seen as a social construction subject tochange and contestation and that their hierarchical characterizationshould be resisted.
One immediately understands political philosophers’ continuedinterest in education over the last twenty years. If we want citizensof diverse societies to develop the ‘right’ attitudes anddispositions, should we not encourage a common education, school themin a curriculum that teaches respect for difference, while providingthe necessary skills for democratic discussion across thesedifferences? If so, should we not resist demands for separate schoolsor dispensations for minorities? How flexible should public schools betowards minorities if the goal is to make them feel welcome and ensurethat they do not retreat into parochial institutions? (Callan 1997;Gutmann 1999; Brighouse 2000, 2006)