Cathrine Degnen
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People and place
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Based on the fundamental premise that experience and the self cannot be understood in a social vacuum, Chapter Two historicises the research locale, immersing the reader into the ethnographic setting. It introduces the specific research settings of public and private domains of everyday life, multiple sites that inform older people’s sense of self, and the various vantage points for considering social interactions that this affords. Rather than simply describing social activity, this chapter considers the subjective experiences of older age from the perspectives of the people with whom the ethnography is based. The chapter considers daily life, examining what are described as sources of pleasure as well as reasons for frustration. Not surprisingly, these experiences stem from a complicated mixture of factors. Whilst some of these are attributed specifically to ageing and older age by the people who participated in the research, many others are not. They arise instead from the experience of human life and are not at all specific to older age per se. Thus the experience of ‘old age’ as a social label and category is not equivalent to the experience of daily life as an older person. This underlying contradiction informs the chapters to come.

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