1st Edition

When Strangers Become Family The Role of Civil Society in Addressing the Needs of Aging Populations

    266 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    As the 21st Century unfolds, the traditional welfare state that evolved during the 20th Century faces serious threats to the solidarity that social programs were meant to strengthen. The rise of populist and nationalist parties reflects the decline of a sense of belonging and inclusiveness that mass education and economic progress were meant to foster, as traditional politics and parties are rejected by working- and middle-class individuals who were previously their staunchest supporters. Increasingly, these groups reject the growing gaps in income, power, and privilege that they perceive between themselves and highly educated and cosmopolitan business, academic, and political elites.

    When Strangers Become Family examines the potential role of civil society organizations in guaranteeing the rights and addressing the needs of vulnerable groups, paying particular attention to their role in advocacy for and service delivery to older people. The book includes a discussion of the origins and functions of this sector that focuses on the relationship between the state and non-governmental organizations, as well as a close examination of Mexico – a middle-income nation with a rapidly aging population and limited state welfare for older people. The data reveals important aspects of the relationship among government actors, civil society organizations, and political parties. Ronald Angel and Verónica Montes-de-Oca Zavala ask the fundamental question about the extent to which civil society organizations represent a potential mechanism whereby vulnerable individuals can join together to further their own interests and exercise their individual and group autonomy.

    1. Struggling Collectively for Truth and Justice

    2. Defamilisation and the Welfare State

    3. Elder Rights in the Context of the New Human Rights Discourse

    4. Active Aging and Citizenship

    5. The Political and Legal Contexts of Eldercare in Mexico

    6. Labor Unions and the Struggle for Political Power

    7. Improving the Quality of Life

    8. The Expanding Human Rights Agenda

    9. Illiberal Democracy and the Future of Civil Society


    Ronald J. Angel is Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin and coauthor, along with Jacqueline L. Angel, of Family, Intergenerational Solidarity, and Post-Traditional Society and Latinos in an Aging World.

    Verónica Montes-de-Oca Zavala  is Professor of Sociology and Demography at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She is the author of Envejecimiento en América Latina y el Caribe. UNAM and Oxford Institute of Ageing Population.

    In Mexico, as elsewhere, longer lifespans, together with shorter health spans, decreasing fertility and deep social changes result in an increasing number of vulnerable and dependent older adults, whose fate, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is severely compromised. This book offers very timely and comprehensive insights into the roles of civil society organizations in advocating and providing services to this population as they defend the human and social rights of older persons.

    Luis Miguel Gutiérrez, Director, Instituto Nacional de Geriatría, México

    In When Strangers Become Family the authors highlight the roles of Civil Society Organizations in promoting care services in improving quality of life in old age, from a rights-based perspective, by promoting the new human rights agenda embodied in all international conventions since the World Assembly of Aging held in Madrid.

    Gloria Fernández-Mayoralas, Investigadora senior del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain

    This investigation focuses on diverse groups and their mission toenhance the quality of life of older people. Highlighted are three large groups: labor unions, groups that focus on quality of life of older people, and other groups that are guided by the ongoing struggle to protect human rights in later life.

    Maria Aranda, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, and Executive Director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, USA

    An outstanding question since the emergence of mass society has been how government, public and private interest groups could organize to mitigate the hardships of people needing moral support and material assistance when intimate social networks are unable to adequately respond. This volume examines this dilemma through the lens of surging numbers of aging dependent people confronted with resource scarcity and provides insights and opportunities that transcend the geographic boundaries of the author's contextual analysis. 

    William Vega, Emeritus Provost Professor at the University of Southern California and former Executive Director of the USC Roybal Institute on Aging, USA