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Economic, Social and Political Sciences
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Dr Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill BA, MSc, DPhil

Lecturer in Gerontology, SSLC Coordinator

Dr Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill's photo

I am a Lecturer in Gerontology and interested in older people’s care and support networks. Most of my research focuses on Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country.

My research examines the negotiation of care and support for and by older people in developing and transitional societies.

I joined the Centre for Research on Ageing in 2006 and helped to develop the MSc in Gerontology. I studied Human Sciences at Oxford University, obtained an MSc in Medical Demography at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and spent two years as researcher at Bielefeld University in Germany. I obtained my DPhil on old-age support and intergenerational relations in Indonesia from Oxford University in 2002. Between 2004 and 2006 I was British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at St Antony’s College at Oxford. During that time, I also lectured and tutored in demography. 

I am on the Editorial Board of Ageing and Society and Ethics Advisor on “SmartPhonesSmartAging” (UCL) and “Emergent Ethics of Drone Violence” (University of Southampton). I co-chair the Special Interest Group on Ageing in Africa, Asia and Latin America [] of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG). I am member of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), the British Society of Gerontology (BSG), the British Society for Population Studies (BSPS), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Demographie and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gerontologie und Geriatrie.

Research interests

My research focuses on understanding the relationships between social networks, social stratification and the construction of vulnerability over the lifecourse. I am interested in the negotiation of care and support in older people’s family and community networks and the impacts of migration on these. My academic background is interdisciplinary, combining anthropology and demography, and my research merges qualitative and quantitative methods, with ethnography informing the design and interpretation of survey sources.

ESRC Project on Care Networks: I currently lead an ESRC-funded research project titled “Care networks in later life: A comparative study of Indonesia using ethnography and surveys” (10/2019 – 03/2022). This is a collaboration with the University of Oxford, Loughborough University and Atma Jaya Catholic University in Indonesia. The project investigates what care needs older Indonesians have; who provides care; what acceptable care looks like; and how care-dependent people are evaluated. It involves ethnographic research in six diverse communities across Indonesia, combined with collection of household survey data and analysis of existing national-level surveys.

Australian Research Council Project: I am currently co-investigator on an ARC funded project (2017-2021) which investigates social, health and economic vulnerabilities across the lifecourse in six Indonesian communities, utilising a common ethnographic, household survey and life history approach. The project is led by Prof Lyn Parker from the University of Western Australia. My focus within the project is on three lifecourse stages (family formation, middle-age and old age) to examine the role of social networks and welfare provision in mitigating the impacts of common lifecourse vulnerabilities.

Transnational migration, care and support: I recently completed research on the local and transnational support networks of older Transylvanian Saxons in Romania. This German-speaking minority experienced dramatic outmigration to Germany in recent decades, leaving a predominantly older population in Romania. The research investigated transnational care and support, the role of the church and neighbours, and the transformation of local communities and support arrangements following emigration.

Ageing in Indonesia: Between 1999 and 2006 I was involved in comparative, ethnographic and demographic research on ageing in Indonesia, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy. The research, led by Dr Philip Kreager at the University of Oxford, examined support networks and intergenerational relationships of older people in Indonesia.

I have published on intergenerational family support; vulnerabilities in old age; the nexus of family, kinship and community networks in support provision; gender and ageing; caregiving and the impact of dependency on social identity; the role of childlessness and social stratification in shaping access to support and care in later life; and the impact of migration on family networks.

I am currently co-supervising four PhD students, working on spirituality in later life; decision making among the ‘oldest old’; intergenerational relationships and family support in Brunei; and digital device use among older people with dementia. 

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Book Chapters


Working Paper

  • GERO6012 Demographic Change, Ageing and Globalisation (DL)
  • GERO6019 Demographic Change, Ageing and Globalisation
  • GERO6017 Methods for Researching Ageing Societies
  • PhD supervision
Dr Elisabeth Schröder-Butterfill
Reception Building 58 University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/4109

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