NYAS Lecture 2/25: The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe

The New York Academy of Sciences lecture series continues on February 25th when Susana Narotzky, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Spain, will present, “The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe.” Jane Schneider, Professor Emeritus, C.U.N.Y Graduate Center will act as discussant. The lecture will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

The current crisis in Europe creates new practices and understandings of inter-generational dependencies reaching beyond the intimacy of the home to the reproduction of society as a whole. This talk addresses how older and younger men and women have seen their expectations of stability and wellbeing shattered. In a social context that promotes the entrepreneurial self, autonomy is increasingly difficult to attain and inter-generational forms of care overlap with conflict and resentment.

Neoliberal policy and media discourse present the elderly as a privileged group dispossessing the younger generation from its future. In contrast, my research demonstrates that exchanges of funds, labor, resources, and knowledge between generations within and across households contribute to complex solidarities. Class rather than age is the marker of social differentiation. Important mobilizations in support of public pension systems in Europe challenge a discourse where social security rights are increasingly represented as a form of privilege rather than as a means by which a state more equitably distributes resources.

About the Speakers:

Susana Narotzky is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain and a Fellow of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. She studied at the University of Barcelona and at the New School for Social Research in New York and obtained an M.A. degree in 1984 and a Ph.D. in 1989. In 2011 she was awarded the ICREA-Academia five year Fellowship by the Institut Català de Recerca I Estudis Avançats, Generalitat de Catalunya to support her research. She has served as scientific coordinator of the project “Models and their Effects on Development paths” (MEDEA) (2009-2012) 7th FP, and since 1998 is the head of the Study Group on Reciprocity (GER) at the University of Barcelona. Her main research focus has been on the anthropology of work, with particular attention to unregulated production and care practices within and across generations. The recent global crisis has led her to investigate the articulation between folk models of the economy that inform practices at the micro-sociological level, and expert models of the economy that frame policy, corporative and institutional behavior. Her work is inspired by theories of critical political economy, moral economies, and feminist economics. 

Jane Schneider is Professor Emeritus from C.U.N.Y. Graduate center (2005), where she had been Professor of Anthropology since 1985.  Professor Schneider became an anthropologist after earning a degree in Political Theory from the University of Michigan and continued to straddle the two with her theoretical work and her fieldwork. After an early interest in textiles and in the world-system approach that led to seminal publications, she moved into a career of research on and in Sicily and to a fruitful partnership with Peter Schneider, which culminated in numerous publications, including, Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle in Palermo (2003). Currently, Jane Schneider is working on “contraband capitalism”–how this “mode of production” gained momentum from the U.S. “war on drugs,” and how it transformed criminal organizations around the world, with special attention to the Sicilian Mafia.

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.


A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required