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The article contains an attempt to discuss the "socialisation" of elderly people today. In the 20th century there were considerable changes within the family, the relationships between old parents and adult children underwent gradual transformation - links formerly based on collaboration, dependence and togetherness were replaced by relationships of the type of "staying in contact" and symbolic exchanges. In Poland, especially in the countryside these changes occurred over a longer period than in the west due to the later introduction of retirement and the tradition of extended families. In the 20th century, there occurred as well changes in community building - instead of relationships based on physical contact and geographical closeness, there developed symbolic groups and communities, often based on indirect means of communication. An effect of the loosening of the ties between the generations in the family and changes in the form of communality is loneliness which is declared by a considerable number of old people in Poland who in their youth had been socialized in communities characterized by physical closeness and joint participation in everyday activities. On the basis of ethnographic studies in Warsaw the article presents four case studies which serve as examples of the lifestyles of elderly women in families with stronger and looser relationships and in other types of groups/communities: in a daycare centre and non-governmental organization.
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