Seeking to better understand what it means to grow older in contemporary Britain from the perspective of older people themselves, this richly detailed ethnographic study engages in debates over selfhood and people’s relationships with time. Based on research conducted in an English former coal mining village, the book focuses on the everyday experiences of older people living there. It explores how the category of old age comes to be assigned and experienced in daily life through multiple registers of interaction. These include ‘memory work’ about people, places and webs of relations in a postindustrial setting that has undergone profound social transformation. Challenging both the notion of a homogenous relationship with time across generations and the idea of a universalised middle-aged self, the author argues that the complex interplay of social, cultural and physical attributes of ageing means that older people can come to occupy a different position in relation to time and to the self than younger people. This account provides fascinating insight into what is at stake for the ageing self in regards to how people come to know, experience and dwell in the world. It describes the ways in which these distinctive forms of temporality and narrativity also come to be used against older people, denigrated socially in some contexts as ‘less-than-fully adult’. This text will be of great interest to researchers and students in anthropology, sociology, human geography and social gerontology working on interests in selfhood, time, memory, the anthropology of Britain and the lived experience of social change.
ageing can be represented in modern action cinema.
The hypermasculine ageing body of the franchise’s lead actor, iconic
action star Sylvester Stallone playing Barney Ross, is the main
spectacle of the film series. This is in keeping with the historic
critical focus that Stallone’s muscular body has received throughout
his film career, as ‘Reviewers have on the whole refused the attempt
Ageing, disability and policy
One in ten Europeans has a disability and that percentage is likely to increase
along with the ageing of the population in the coming decades. For e xample,
there will be more than twice as many people aged 80 years or older in
2050 across OECD countries than there are currently, and their share of the
population will rise from 4% in 2010 to 10% in 2050 (OECD, 2013). Between
one quarter and one half of these people will need help in their daily lives, due
to reduced functional and cognitive capabilities
AGEING, LOSS, RECIDIVISM . . .
Domine, refugium . . .
I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, ‘Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!’
Thomas Hardy (1898)
The crumbling foundations were solid in my childhood. Is this ageing,
or something that happens outside time? Temporal? Reincarnated, I
can expect another exposure in a different body. Ageing fuels visionary
dreariness, but the spots in time are empty. The child is long in the
tooth, the curtains are drawn. Marginalise, contain. The Home. The
piano. Dancing with hip
Ageing and older age present some of the most pressing social and political issues
of our time. They have justifiably received extensive scientific attention from
both the medical sciences and the social sciences. What often becomes lost in
these studies, however, are the everyday experiences of the older people themselves who are at the heart of such enterprise. This book inverts this relationship.
It asks instead what can be learned about older age by focusing on the finegrained and multiple ways in which ageing and selfhood are experienced in
this book towards a conclusion, there are several points I wish to
make, some of which stem, in part, from the reflections provoked by the purple
Ageing selves and everyday lives in the North of England
geranium. The first of these is one that will be familiar to many ethnographers:
conducting intensive fieldwork over a period of many months and years comes to
intertwine the biography and identity of the ethnographer with that of the
people and places she has worked. Sometimes this transformative effect is dialectical, but it is probably fair to say that
the ways in which, the self is continuously produced through social
interaction and if discontinuity and rupture inform the self as much as continuity and consistency do (Battaglia, 1995a; Ewing, 1990; Quinn, 2006; Sökefeld,
1999; Strauss, 1997). I argue that these models do not always accommodate the
experiences of older people as they do for younger and middle-aged people. So,
for example, later in this chapter I discuss the relationship between ‘the remembered self ’ and ‘the inhabited self ’ to illustrate the pressures on the ageing self to
geographical area there is an abundance of names for various parts of the village.
These names in turn are shorthand for village knowledge and navigation.
Dodworth has a small but well provisioned shopping area on High Street that
Ageing selves and everyday lives in the North of England
Figure 1 The Crossroads, Dodworth High Street.
Map 2 Dodworth and Gilroyd, edged by the M1 on the right. Barnsley is just to the
east of the M1 and is largely out of view on this map.
Dodworth: people and place
houses a general store, the post office and pharmacy, the library, a
in everyday English to evoke the wide range of experiences encapsulated in the
category of old age, social scientists researching ageing have had to stumble their
way through, denoting differences which are believed to exist but whose boundaries are contested and blurred. This uncertainty is reflected in the difficult task
faced by researchers delineating the segment of the ageing population they are
working with. Some attempts to distinguish different categories of oldness
include the ‘old old’ versus the ‘young old’ (Myerhoff, 1984: 307); the ‘disabled
fleshing out with ethnographic detail the connections
between the ageing self, subjectivity and temporality that I sketched in Chapters 1
In Chapter 1, I outlined key parameters for an approach to the ageing self that
takes temporality more fully into account. There I argued that narrativity and
temporality figure powerfully in the creation of self, that both are bound up in
the ontology of everyday life and in processes of social interaction through which
people make meaning and make sense of the world. I drew attention to the possibility that as one’s subjective