Susanne Formanek, Sepp Linhart (eds.), 1997
Aging: Asian Concepts and Experiences. Past and Present. (BKGA 20.) Wien: VÖAW, 1997 (order online). (404 S.)

With the greying of the population in Western industrialized nations and the resultant problems, interest has increasingly been drawn to the construction of old age in historical periods and non-european societies. Asia has been the focus of considerable attention in this context due on the one hand to values such as filial piety or the prevalence of the seniority principle which many Asian cultures are credited with and which are thought to contribute to creating a cultural climate especially favourable to the elderly in this region of the world, and to recurrent reports of a tradition of abandonment of the elderly on the other, which also attest to a darker side of this issue.

In 17 contributions that geographically span the area from India to China and Japan and historically cover periods from the earliest times of literate cultures to the present, the volume presents new findings on both the valuation of aging in the various intellectual and religious traditions of Asia, and the actual living conditions of the elderly in this region of the world in a cross-cultural perspective. The considerable historical and regional variation in the conceptions of old age and the - often surprising - determinants of the status of the elderly, as they are documented in this volume, should also contribute to enrich socio-gerontological discussion on a more general level.